‘We want people to get veg­eta­bles fresh any­time’

Daily Trust - - INTERVIEW - Con­tin­ued from page 47

on our own, we are do­ing lit­tle bits which I am sure later on will come to­gether and we will be able to push that chain.

What about the mar­ket­ing side of things, how do you dis­pose of your pro­duce?

First time we did it we went through the con­ven­tional route, via the mar­ket and the deal­ers, but we dis­cov­ered that based on the goal we want to achieve of pro­vid­ing the best prod­ucts with the best pack­ag­ing and the best prices so that buy­ers can make their choices, we dis­cov­ered that the present sys­tem will not al­low it so we had to try to cre­ate aware­ness and con­nec­tion with con­sumers be­cause we be­lieve that with more knowl­edge there is more de­sire or de­mand.

Did you try the big su­per­mar­ket chains that are sprout­ing in the ma­jor cities?

Yes, we have tried them, we have worked with some of them but be­cause of our goal, it was not very ben­e­fi­cial be­cause with veg­eta­bles, people do not un­der­stand it is a very dis­ci­plined ac­tiv­ity. It is one that has to do with pro­cesses. You need or­gan­i­sa­tion, per­fect tim­ing and plan­ning and even if you reach the big su­per­mar­kets if they do not un­der­stand the im­por­tance of be­ing con­sis­tent, even if they tell you about their needs and you sup­ply them, re­spect­ing the time in plac­ing or­ders and sup­ply­ing them, they too have to un­der­stand that be­cause if they want the best qual­ity they must give you time to of­fer them the best. So the prob­lem I had with these su­per­mar­kets is some­times they do not un­der­stand what it in­volves in veg­etable farm­ing and they change their mind on you; they ne­go­ti­ate any­time and they up­set your plan­ning.

What about prices, do they of­fer more com­pet­i­tive prices be­cause usu­ally the prob­lem for farm­ers is that they sweat for so long and they get pit­tance for their work and it is the mid­dle­men who ben­e­fit the most?

It is also part of the rea­son we chose to deal di­rectly with cus­tomers. The mid­dle­men and the su­per­mar­kets play the same role. They want to profit a hun­dred per­cent on the farm­ers’ work with­out con­sid­er­a­tion of how much work he has put in, how much time he has spent and also how much pas­sion he has put in. These are what he is bring­ing to you to buy and you have to un­der­stand that that is his only life. He has com­mit­ted his whole life to pro­duce for you. So the least you can do is to ap­pre­ci­ate him with a good price. But we do not have that in Nigeria. Su­per­mar­kets will want to buy from you at the same price that deal­ers will buy from you and our whole idea is to es­cape the deal­ers so that farm­ers can get the fruit of their labour; but of course these prod­ucts are sold at a good price but which does not get to the farm­ers.

Did you con­sider the idea of set­ting up a farm­ers’ mar­ket sim­i­lar to what was set up in Kano and also in re­cent years

in Abuja?

Yes, it is con­cept we con­sid­ered be­cause the more of such that there are and the more people can ac­cess them, the more they will like it. So farm­ers’ mar­ket is also one strat­egy we want to con­sider.

Do you face a chal­lenge in cold stor­age as farm­ers of per­ish­able pro­duce which need to be kept fresh?

That also is a very very big chal­lenge, es­pe­cially in veg­eta­bles be­cause they are per­ish­able. Their shelf life is very short - 48 hours to a week - depend­ing on the veg­etable and the stor­age method and even more so in Abuja where the weather is hot. We are con­sid­er­ing some in­no­va­tions we can have be­cause we are not yet that large scale to make that huge in­vest­ment. So we are con­sid­er­ing dif­fer­ent in­no­va­tions that will serve us.

We can use con­tain­ers with air con­di­tion­ers that can keep the veg­eta­bles fresh and there can be con­stant sup­ply of those pro­duce. We want people to be able to ac­cess fresh veg­eta­bles any­time they want.


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