AFEX Commodities Exchange Limited has had a fascinating 2018. We are planners over here, so to say that we did not expect to have such a great time would be underselling the vision and skills of the numerous people that made this year so special. We collaborated and partnered on pushing out a number of initiatives and products tied to our value proposition of growing markets and connecting trade. A few moments stand out as extra special in all our myriad of activities though every single second has been important to our story. Here we feature some of our 2018 impact stories that are our greatest pointers to the truth of us succeeding together.
2018 Impact Stories
Code Cash Crop
One of the first things that we decided to do in 2018 was a workshop that brought together the three different industries where AFEX Nigeria regularly operates: Code (Technology), Cash (Finance), and Crop (Agriculture). These three industries are vital parts of Nigeria’s growth away from a mono-economy of oil dependence.
Code Cash Crop was therefore an inspired event idea that invited deliberations on the intersections of the three industries. The first format of CCC was held in March as a stand-alone workshop in Lagos, Nigeria. It brought together corporate bodies and startups playing in the Finance, Technology and Agricultural sectors to develop prototypes for collaboration in the agribusiness sector. The workshop was a success with the learnings from the conversations sure to continue inspiring new innovations from the industries.
Code Cash Crop is being organized again for 2019, this time as a panel session in Social Media Week Lagos. An impressive speaker lineup and a topic focus on payment solutions for rural agrarian communities already has us excited for this second outing, which is sure to be bigger and even more impactful.
2018 Wet & Dry Season Input Program
At AFEX Nigeria, on an annual basis, we deploy our input financing program to unlock input loans for smallholder farmers, who are often unable to secure these inputs for themselves due to high costs and limited access to credit. The input bundles known as the Agribooster are broken down along three bands: the premium band intended for lead farmers and farmers who desire high yield and quality produce includes inputs of seeds, fertilizers, Crop Protection Products (CPPs) and mechanization where applicable. The Agribooster plus provides fertilizers and Crop Protection Products and the basic package provides only fertilizers.
In 2018, our reach was expanded through partnerships with LAPO Microfinance Bank, Dangote Rice, Thrive Agric, Farmcrowdy, OCP, and Syngenta. This meant an expansion of impact as we were able to provide inputs worth $3.8 million across eight states in the 2018 wet season. We were able to bring onboard over 16,000 farmers, who then had access to input loans that enabled them to maximize productivity and yield, helping them to not only increase their income, but to potentially contribute more to their communities and country at large.
AFEX Nigeria has also begun input disbursement, for the 2019 dry season input program, in Kebbi State, with Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano and Jigawa next in line. We are targeting an additional 10,000 farmers for the dry season input program so as to reach a total of 25,000 farmers for the 2018 period.
A bulk of farming activities in Africa are still reliant on manual activities as cost blocks smallholder farmers from mechanizing their operations. Still, the long term outlook for AFEX Nigeria is to heighten farmer productivity and the volume of land cultivated. To do this, AFEX Nigeria has committed to the consistent education and engagement of the farmers. We have always done this and 2018 was no different with our outreach structure having a necessary aspect of educating farmers. Most recently in November, we had a post-harvest training at our Zaria warehouse that was part of our campaign to end post-harvest losses.
Partnership with Binkabi and Sterling Bank on Blockchain for Agric
We have always believed in the power of technology to disrupt processes, and our partnership with Binkabi and Sterling, sealed in 2018, to leverage blockchain technology to solve the issue of financing and international trade is one that speaks directly to that belief. The implications of this partnership are far reaching, but we always start at the incredible benefit it will extend to farmers who through the technology can now be linked directly to consumers and retailers. The blockchain technology will help solve for transparency in the supply chain which will help farmers get fair prices for their produce leading to increased income.
The products and initiatives that we have featured here for our 2018 impact stories come from an obviously great year, which has resulted from the hard work and dedication of every single staff of AFEX Nigeria, and also from the farmers who never give up on the land. They are, however, also the results of the contributions of impact investors and partners with whom we share similar goals like improvement in the stake of smallholder farmers and the work to secure food security for our country and our world.