How can I win the hearts of my consumers with my products without a proper understanding of what their needs and desires are? How can production be effective without the appropriate technical know-how? How can I be motivated to produce more when my old stocks are still in my storehouse? How can
production be complete when the products have not reached the final stage (i.e. consumers)?
These and many more are the major questions bugging the minds of African farmers. What could be responsible for these challenges and how can these questions be answered? This is exactly what we want to address with ajaoko.com.
I am Ojonugwa Nicholas Alifa, a young man with a deep passion for the development of food and agriculture in Africa. I was born in 1993, in Nigeria. I hold a BSc in food science and technology from Kogi State University, Anyigba.
In 2012, while I was an undergraduate, I founded Afrifood Initiative, an initiative that is taking a pragmatic approach to developing, improving, and promoting African indigenous food products. This happens via grassroots agro-awareness in rural areas and building passion for agriculture among youths.
In the course of this project, I discovered a major problem in the food and agriculture sector of Africa: it lacks good connections between the four principal players: the farmers, the researchers (in research and academic institutes), the agro-allied industries, and the consumers.
Each player has a major role and, like soccer, they must work together in order to win the game. The research and academic institutes make findings and come out with new and improved technological ideas. The farmers apply these technological ideas and produce improved products for the agro-allied industries and consumers. The agro-allied industries make use of these products from
farmers and process them into finished products for the consumers.
In Africa, each of these players is on its own. They work independently.
The research and academic institutes makes powerful findings but they end up only in the journals and consequently on the universities library shelves. The farmers who cannot access this information continue to use their crude technologies, resulting in an inability to meet industrial demands and global standards.
The agro-allied industries that do not know where and who produces what have resorted to the import of their raw materials, even when these products can be found locally, resulting in overdependence on foreign countries for survival. Consequently, the consumer has to pay more.
A powerful tool that can bridge up this gap is information and communication technology (ICT). And this is exactly what Afrifood Initiative wants to accomplish with ajaoko.com. ‘Ajaoko’ is an Igala (a Nigerian dialect) word which means ‘farm market’. Ajaoko.com is an online platform I’ve created to handle the holistic activity of African food and agriculture, with the aim of promoting and improving the standards of agro-products as well as expanding the Africa market by bridging the gap between the major players.
On this platform we have: an online agro-market—where buyers meet the sellers. This will provide opportunity for agro-allied industries to meet with the farmers and carry out business transactions irrespective of the distance. It will also:
- Provide opportunities for consumers and agro-allied industries to let the farmers know exactly what they want, so distribution and logistics can be improved.
- Enable agro-products to be purchased directly from the rural farmers and
distributed to the consumers and agro-allied industries, in the comfort of their homes and offices with just a click at an African agro-resource centre.
- Enable farmers and extension officers to assess the latest research findings on African food and agriculture and apply it to improve their productivity, training, mentoring, and consultancy services.
- For young food and agriculture entrepreneurs, and farmers, it will enable partnerships with academic and research institutes, though an agro-minds interactive forum where African agro-players can network and exchange ideas.
Returns will be made by charging a percentage commission from every successful transaction, the home-delivery of fresh, dried, and processed agro-products, and creating space for advertisements of food and agro-industries on the platform.
This platform will have a smartphone application so that, with a click in the comfort of your home, you can assess basic information about how to sell or buy your agro-products. With the aid of our mini delivery vehicle we will also be able to make home deliveies of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other food stuffs, in a highly hygienic and professional manner.
For the farmers, we will organize a sensitization workshop; teaching them how this platform works and encouraging them to form cooperatives, so that they will be able to regulate and control the price of their farm produce.
The farmers will be able to produce more, sell faster, and consequently create more wealth. With our logistics and distribution channel we will be able to identify where production happens and who produces what; go there to confirm and place the advertisement on the platform. The agro-allied industries will be able to know where and who produces the raw materials needed, thereby discouraging imports.
The USD 5,000 grant, if received, will cover the following fixed and operating costs for one year:
- USD 2,000 will go into mobile app development for the platform
- USD 200 for mini delivery van, for distribution and home delivery services
- USD 1,500 for marketing and sensitization of rural farmers
- USD 600 for office accommodation, wages, and other logistics
- USD 700 for purchase of agro-produce from the farmers.
This platform’s long-term vision is to give African agriculture a global outlook; presenting the African’s agricultural potential to the entire world; attracting foreign investors while improving the capacity of the local industry.
Blogpost and picture submitted by Ojonugwa Nicholas Alifa (Nigeria): nicholasalifa[at]gmail.com
The content, structure and grammar are at the discretion of the author only.
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