I stumbled into agro commodity trading by chance in December 2018 and I remain fascinated by the enormous agricultural potential in the eleven countries across West Africa that I am privileged to work in. From food and agricultural commodities, the total number of people employed in the sector to the amount of arable land available in the region.
As I continued my work, I also encountered the numerous challenges that the sector faced: fragmented and infrastructural pitfalls across the value chain, unbalanced news reporting and a lack of fundamental support. For example, Storage limitations leads to loss with small holder farmers suffering the most (according to the UN food and agricultural organization 20% of grains are lost to poor storage), road penetration stands at 15% in Nigeria which leads to crippling logistics and delays, poorly developed irrigation and lack of clean water supply force farmers to rely on unpredictable rainfall.
According to the federal ministry of agriculture, and rural development, women account for 75% of the farming population in Nigeria, working as farm managers and suppliers of labor. Though women farmers work alongside their male counterparts, there are clear distinctions in activities between them. Their involvement in the value chain is limited, especially post-harvest. A major reason for the disparity in engagement by men and women in the formal and informal sector is low access to funding; women are also restricted from bulk buying (aggregation is very common) making men more prominent in trading activities in the local and international scene. The possibilities of women in Agriculture is hindered by formal and traditional rules.
Also, rural women are rarely connected with grants and agricultural export crops such as cocoa, sesame seed and cotton but rather are more involved in the production of food crops such as maize, melon, cowpea and vegetables.
As I meet, engage, trade and collaborate with aggregators and smallholder farmers in my territory, I became intrigued by the segmented role of women despite the high number of their involvement in production. Their seats remain vacant in policy making and the value chain. Also, despite the high women of women involved in agriculture, their stories are told from an exploitative point.
If agriculture is truly the economic potential of Africa then we must begin to tell both sides of the story and not only focus on the numerous infrastructural inadequacies. I conceived the idea to build Agri news Africa, a platform that tells stories across food systems in Africa after in the hopes of balancing the information that comes from the industry. Our aim is to tell stories that spotlights agripreneurs, share the possibilities that abound while also demanding a fair trade.
As a continent, we are grappling with high numbers of youth unemployment so sharing insights on the enormous opportunities across the food systems can make agriculture cool again; from logistics, agro service industries and inputs to trade. I intend to use my platform to call for reforms while also celebrating the innovations that entrepreneurs across Africa are doing to improve participation in agribusiness, ensure food security and that the African continent becomes a major player in the global food industry.