Our Knowledge Management and Communication Executive, Ijila Tofunmi in this article shares her experience from attending the 2019 Nigeria Agro Food Exhibition held at Landmark Event Centre between the 26th and 28th of March 2019. She reflects on participation, key insights gathered and how young people in the agricultural space can take advantage of turning challenges to opportunities in the sector
The Nigeria Agrofood and Nigeria plast print pack conference was a festival of Innovation, Ideas and inventions from all across the world. With the aim of Encouraging International partnerships, Boosting capacity in Agriculture, Food, Small and Medium Enterprises, Safe preservation of food. Some of the countries that actively exhibited their products include: Germany, Italy, Thailand, China, Russia, Austria(Which came in majorly to sign up deals with big companies in Nigeria),Belarus, Finland India, Netherlands , Turkey, Egypt and Nigeria; Of course. This edition of the International trade show is focused on Agriculture, Food processing, and packaging, Ingredients, bakery, confectionery and food, and Hospitality is the fifth edition in Nigeria, organized by German trade show experts known as “Fairtrade”
A lot of Nigerian companies showcased and introduced new products into the Agro space which could be readily exported and can compete globally. Such products include a range of food items that were exhibited by the “EEZY KITCHEN” which contained products like: Pre-mixed “Egusi” , “Edika ikong” which needs only seasoning and vegetables and all is set after boiling for a few minutes; or the Coconut rice condiment which requires as little as a teaspoon to cook 2kg of rice according to the sales representative that attended to me, as well as the “Ready mix” Nigerian stew which only requires seasoning, a little cooking and the stew is all set for consumption.
This exhibit or celebration of the birth of a new era for Nigerian Agro space took place from the 26th to 28th March 2019. It was a melting point for ideas about understanding value chain, Skill development, Circular Economy, Innovations in Agriculture and Tech in Agriculture, Startups and Digitization featuring 25 Nigerian and European companies. Some which include: Bakker Brothers, Syngenta, Amaplast ,Symrise, Mallam All Agro Allied company, Farmcrowdy, Corporate Farmers ,Shadong Bigtree Dreyfus special meals foods company, Kreuzmayr, Dohler, Rhijk Zwaan, Diosna, Daniso and Bongard
Over 120 Dignitaries from around the world including Mr Francis Widmer (Economic counsellor of France), DR. Marc Lucassen (Delegate of German Industry and Commerce, Germany), H.E. Mr Vyacheslav Bril, Ambassador of Belarus, H.E. Dr. Stefan Traumann, Consul General of Germany, H.E. Mr. Michael Deelen, Consul General of the Netherlands, H.E. Dr. Maurizio Busanelli, Consul General of Italy, Ms. Isabelle Kouamo, Head of Department Sub- Saharan Africa, Adepta, Dr. Marc Lucassen, Delegate , Delegation of German Industry and commerce in Nigeria-AHK, Ms. Martina Claus, Manager Market Development Africa, VDMA food processing and packaging Machinery, Ms Sandra Brogli, Project manager trade fairs, Switzerland Global Enterprise(S-GE) and Miss Simidele Onabajo (Deputy Director of NAFDAC) were in attendance to mention a few.
SIDE NOTE: Another product was showcased which is called: “Ready bake – soft Bread mix(MM)” which has come to safe one the stress of Moi-moi ( a food product that is made of beans and consumed in Nigeria) and bread. So instead of eating both Moi-Moi and bread, you bake the Mix: 10kg bake mix with 5.4-5.7 kg of water and 0.16kgYeast (Instant). This gives us a product that looks like a bread, but tastes like a mixture of bread and moi-moi
There were a lot of “unman-uhmmn” moments as seasoned and experienced key speakers who are stake holders in the Agro space from around the world gave their opinions, recommendations, acknowledgments and facts to buttress each area that was being discussed.
Some of the issues farmers are facing include the following:
Nigerians produce 130%of food needed but loses 70% to bad transportation, post-harvest loses, poor market strategy, lack of preservation, exports just 30% and sells 30% locally; Agro finances are not easy to come by for small businesses , commercial banks getting more aids from government than SME banks who exist for the sake of developing businesses and some banks charge high interest rates .
Dr Ijewere the Vice President of Nigeria Agribusiness Group(NABG) acknowledged the Dr Akinwumi Adesina who helped in the forming of the NABG which is an alliance space for Agribusinesses in Nigeria and advised the international investors and partners to help local farmers with Technology since that have an excess or sufficient knowledge of Technology and ideas that has helped them to succeed for hundreds of years as they invade the country and grow their influence and market. Farmers shouldn’t be condemned to poverty especially in Nigeria. Also, Miss Sandra Brogli said that Nigeria has one of the greatest market for food packaging and procesing in Africa and should take advantage of this reality
The Deputy Director of NAFDAC said that small and medium enterprises can now register their produce at 50% discount rate on www.nafdac.go.ng while production will be registered on www.napams.gov. Likewise, Mr Akin Alabi of Corporate Farmers encouraged farmers to upscale what they are doing by getting trained in technical knowhow, and actively applying what they are learning. He further explained the need for understanding.
Value chain in Agribusiness such as Agro finance(which covers insurance, account keeping in Agriculture), Agri-health(How do farmers monitor their health or those of the crops?), Agri-logistics( Technology in Agriculture: Software as in apps, hardware: Structures or machines that will enable proper movement of produce to keep the shelf life of the produce intact), Agri-education (Commodity exportation know-how, capacity building, developing or linking markets,Who is passing down the knowledge in Agriculture to the next generation and training farmers on latest innovations and know how in Agric space).
Taking advantage of innovations especially for the young people who will necessarily have to take up the challenge of ensuring Agriculture in Africa booms again and understand that Agriculture is frost business that is not solely for poor or impoverished people but involves a lot of investments and technicalities.
After the Panel session and training I decided to hold conversations with all the representatives of the companies from across the world including Miguel from Germany who advised that The youths be involved in value chain, Accountability thus coming together in different groups, hold the big International companies accountable and they will in turn hold governments accountable. Girolamo from Italy advised that Circular Economy be strongly looked into since it has not just the consumer of a product in mind but what happens after consumption, This is where recycling is advised and knowing that everyone cannot be actively involved with farming, Recycling is worthy of consideration too.
Dr Eberhad who is also from Germany told me that if youths can come together to form cooperatives and find Big companies who can contribute to the society by helping with capacity building at the grassroots stage for farmers and those involved in Agriculture
Finally, the representatives of Gartner Callaway Trading company and Group advised that youths should think about demands before production and innovative products will help the Nigerian Agrospace lest we get sidelined. Youths should understand that Agriculture is a long term Investment with delayed gratification.
Agricultural development in Nigeria will happen by embracing innovation that encourages sustainability.