The African Agriculture Commodity Exchange (AFEX) Limited has pledged to help farmers across the country tackle post-harvest losses.
The Country Manager of AFEX, Nigeria, Mr Ayodeji Balogun, who made the pledge, said the assistance would come through provision of storage facilities such as silos for farmers to preserve and store their agricultural produce.
“We have storage and aggregation systems that store their products for them.”
“We have over 40 storage locations across 15 states in the country now where we have all the farmers engaged with.”
“So, they store it. It is in a warehouse, the quality is preserved. For maize which is one of our largest commodities, for instance, for a farmer to store one bag for whole year, he pays N180.”
“Currently, a bag of maize is going for N14, 000 to N15, 000, so it is extremely small value.”
“They can sell as high as N140, 000 per ton and if they had stored this product at home, you would have had weevil infestation, pests, several types of degradation of the products which is all what we take care of and ensure it doesn’t happen.”
He listed some agricultural produce that could be stored with the organisation to include soya beans, millet, groundnut, ginger, sesame, maize, paddy rice and sorghum.
Balogun said that the system would help to reduce transportation cost incurred during the movement of the produce.
He disclosed the organisation was working with up to 100,000 farmers across the country while 75,000 of them had actively registered with AFEX in Nigeria.
Balogun said that no fewer than 30,000 farmers enjoyed access to credit facilities from the organisation to get inputs to plant and store their produce.
On cassava production in the country, the country manager said the organisation had signed an off-takers agreement for over 300,000 metric tonnes of cassava chips which was over one million tonnes of cassava with different buyers in the market.
“Nigeria produces about 55 million tons of cassava annually so, every year, we produce, sell and consume 55 million tonnes of cassava.
“That creates jobs for millions of farmers.
“Over the last 15 years, that witnessed a cyclical price with extreme losses for farmers and it is all because of the market situation and the storage challenges with cassava.
“If you convert it to chips, you can preserve the life up to a year and it can still be an intermediate products that can go into glucose ethanol, starch or into food or feed trade.
“So we are placing a bet on the ability of us to transform cassava and then grow that sector tremendously both in terms of productivity, market fixes and ensuring steady prices and reducing volatility on cassava prices in the country.”
He however, called for a regional approach to tackle agricultural issues in the country.