Lagos leverages digital technology to connect farmers to market

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It is no gainsaying that Lagos State is the economic capital of Nigeria and the entire West African region. The opportunities afforded many who reside in the city centre are enormous. With a GDP of $136bn as at 2017 which is higher than 42 other African countries; Lagos is conservatively estimated to consume at least N3 billion worth of fresh agricultural produce daily.
Figures from the state government show 8,000 heads of cattle are slaughtered daily in Lagos abattoirs as at 2018 with 15.96 million of 50kg bags of rice consumed annually. Vegetables, fruits, and other less expensive agro consumables gulps more on a daily basis, however, farmers who are the primary source of this produce are schemed out of the gains in the business. By transporting produce from rural areas in the exterior part of Lagos and neighbouring states, middlemen make all the gains, leaving farmers who toil day and night poorer.
To bridge this gap, deepen opportunities and promote prosperity for Lagos Farmers based on their competitive advantage, the Lagos State Government led by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has launched a new platform to connect farmers and those involved in the agribusiness with the urban Lagos Market.
The government through the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture launched its maiden Market Linkage Initiative tagged Eko City Farmers Market (ECFM) which connects local farmers to local buyers in an urban and modern setting.
The maiden edition which held at the Tafawa Balewa Square on Sunday 23rd February, 2020, afforded Lagosians the opportunity to buy fresh farm produce at farm gate prices, in a serene, clean and beautifully arranged environment. Fishermen from the coastal communities scattered across the state brought their catch. Different types of fresh and live fishes were displayed for sale. Cow meat sellers also slaughtered some heads of cattle. In fact, analytics showed they made the highest sales.
Of note are the Cassava Farmers who sold unprocessed Cassava as well as produce of processed Cassava in their numbers.
Lagos, a dominant South Western State, is a melting point for several tribes & cultures and this is reflected in the diverse set of farmers (142 in all) who participated; the customers (771 in all) who made a purchase and the kind of produce and products that were traded.
The Sanwoolu Eko City Farmers’ Market was also an opportunity for the Lagos State Government to show that its partnership with the Kebbi State Government is paying off. Bags of Lake Rice were put on display with each customer only able to buy five bags for fairness and equity. A bag of 25kg sells for N8,500 and whilst a 50kg bag sells for N17,000, an amount far lower than other brands of rice in the same category which goes for as high as N23,000 to N25,000 for a 50kg bag in the market.
Also, fresh perishable fruits and vegetables like Water Melon, Banana, Spinach, Greens leaves, Carrots, Oranges, Onions, Green Pepper, Hot Chili, Tomatoes all of the highest quality were put on display and sold at friendly prices to customers.
Speaking at the event, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by his deputy, Dr. Femi Hamzat, reiterated that the Eko City Farmers’ Market will hold every last Sunday of the month.
He also noted that the initiative was conceived to offer greater market access to farmers and agribusiness men and women, insisting that the initiative will encourage more farmers and other new entrants into the sector thus creating more jobs and opportunity for Lagosians.
“In the next few weeks, we would open our Online Market place, thus connecting farmers and buyers in real-time. Buyers will be able to find any farmer of their choosing and buy directly from them. Our administration will continue to leverage contemporary solutions to provide the best of its kind market linkage services,” the governor declared.
Speaking earlier, Commissioner for Agriculture, Prince Gbolahan Lawal, stated that the idea of the Eko City Farmers’ Market has its genesis from the outcome of the Stakeholders’ Summit the Ministry held on the 11th September 2019 wherein the issue of agricultural produce market and facilitating market linkage for farmers featured prominently in the discussion and subsequently the communiqué that emanated from the Summit.
“Studies have shown that farmers in the State lack direct access to the markets of their produce such that most of the time, they sell their produce to middlemen at rather incredible prices. The farmers that are able to penetrate the market find it even more difficult to break even as they are forced to sell at the association dictated prices,” the commissioner stated.
Prince Lawal further noted that aside fromaccess linkage to market in the short term, the Eko City Farmers’ Market convergence is designed to become a platform that enables farmers access to modern farming technology. Monthly, innovative solutions will be demonstrated in partnership with manufacturers of production and processing equipment.
He said in the long run, the Sanwo-Olu administration plans todevelop the Eko City Farmers’ Market into an international Food Market and innovation exchange platform.
Of note during the maiden edition is thedeployment of digital/online technology to drive the process. Over 95% of the farmers and vendors who participated registered online; Electronic POS Systems and Mobile ATMs were deployed thus bringing transparency and efficiency to the overall process while deepening financial inclusion for Farmers.
Additionally, analytics solutions were deployedat the event, to effectively monitor all activities and track all sales to the last kobo. Insights generated at the maiden event indicated that close to 1,000transactions were recorded worth millions of Naira in value. Payment channels utilised to complete these transactions were diverse from: Cash, POS, Bank Transfers, USSD amongst others.
A total of 771 customers were captured with over 333 vehicles driving in and out of the event venue from as early as 7:20am to 5:51pm.
In total, farmers brought in produce worth over N7.9m with a majority of them (over 98%) selling out their allotted stock by the end of the event.
Overall, full transparency and accountability for further improvements were encouraged through the use of the first of its kind analytics solution adopted at the maiden ECFM event.
The use of Digital Communications to drivesales and patronage must also be commended. Social media platforms were effectively used to drive awareness and improve sales prospects, to reach over 1 million people, on the event day.
For Alhaja Ashake Akinwande, a catfish farmer who participated in the maiden edition of the farmer’s market, she wasfull of praises for the Sanwo-Olu Administration. She said as a fish farmer, she would normally sell at a loss to middlemen who would barely help her break even.
“I thank Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for this initiative. Because of it, people like me will smile home today. The access I have to buyers via this platform means I can sell my produce directly at a reasonable price,” Alhaja Ashake stated. 

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