By Adedapo Adesanya
Nigerian agri-tech startup, AgroEknor, has disclosed that it was working on transforming the value chain of superfoods with scalable digital infrastructure through backward integration.
Through this value chain, investments and solutions are provided for agro products which have created higher income opportunities for smallholder farmers and also reduced wastage in the agricultural value chain.
The startup came about after the team spent around 12 months researching which products were most viable for trade.
“We were able to identify the opportunity with superfoods. We then joined a few industry groups and began to engage potential partners and stakeholders to establish our credibility and build the business,” the co-founder of the startup, Mr Timi Oke said.
“We eventually secured an order of 60 tonnes of containers of dried hibiscus from a Mexican customer. We were upfront with the customer that this was our first deal but we were able to give them enough assurances to go ahead with the transaction. Myself, Ayo and Attah [co-founders] used our own money to purchase the hibiscus from middlemen who procured it from small-scale farmers across Northern Nigeria.
“We successfully completed the order, delivering 60 tonnes of dried hibiscus to a satisfied customer, and that was the beginning of the long journey that has brought us to where we are today,” he added.
The company said there is a growing global demand for natural, nutrient-rich meals, and changing lifestyle choices, which is driving the global superfood trend, with demand expected to reach $204 billion by 2025.
“Hibiscus, for example, is predicted to be one of the biggest global food trends in 2022 and Nigeria happens to be one of the largest growers in the world. With scalable digital infrastructure and impact-driven, inclusive partnerships, AgroEknor is helping farmers and other players in Nigeria’s superfoods value chain to maximise the opportunity that is available to them by driving greater efficiency and enabling increased export earnings,” the founder said.
“The opportunity to transform Africa’s agriculture sector is attracting more attention and drawing more players to the market but our focus on superfoods is our main differentiator. As most of our customers are based outside Nigeria, our competition is typically agribusinesses from other parts of the world where some of these superfoods are also grown.”
AgroEknor secured an undisclosed investment from Aruwa Capital Management, an early-stage growth equity and gender lens fund investing in Nigeria and Ghana, in November of last year, and has also received some grants, including the export stimulation facility from the Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM).
“We are currently in the process of engaging investors to secure more funding to drive the delivery of our tech-enabled solutions,” Mr Oke said.
Regardless of funding, the company says adoption has been strong. It claims that over the last five years, it has empowered over 5,000 smallholder farmers with farm inputs to maximise crop cultivation potential and exported more than 15,000 tonnes of agricultural products to clients globally.
“Through our end-to-end value chain involvement, we are able to enhance food security, extend shelf-life of agro commodities and ultimately improve palatability and export value of agricultural commodities,” he explained.
AgroEknor currently exports agricultural products to global clients spanning Asia, Europe, North, and South American markets.
“Over the next few years we want to scale our sourcing and processing infrastructure to three identified value chains across West Africa,” he said.
Founded in 2013 by brothers Timi and Ayo Oke alongside Attah Anzaku, AgroEknor operates by sourcing, refining and exporting superfoods such as dried hibiscus flower, ginger, sesame seeds to global clients. It has 68 employees and counting and operates from two locations – a processing centre in Kano and a liaison office in Abuja.
South Korea Pledges Mpox Vaccine Supplies
By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh
Sadly, African health authorities for several months have pursued vaccines for curing mpox and its further spread mostly in vain as worldwide outbreaks were reported during this year. But there is some light at the end of the tunnel as some considerable assistance might come from the Republic of South Korea.
The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said some few thousand doses being the first consignment of mpox vaccines as a donation, would arrive shortly and be used for health workers and people living with the disease in the hardest-hit areas in Africa.
The continent this year has recorded 202 deaths from mpox, formerly known as monkeypox, with a fatality rate of 19.3% across 13 countries. African health authorities for months have made feverish efforts in search for curbing the disease’s spread.
According to the Acting CDC director, Ahmed Ogwell, more than 50 new mpox cases in Congo were recorded this month and said Ghana and Nigeria are the other most affected countries. A surge in mpox infections was particularly reported last May outside West and Central Africa.
“Let us get vaccines onto the continent,” CDC Acting Head, Ahmed Ogwell, said in a weekly media briefing pointing to another instance of 1.3 billion people on the continent without access to a vaccine, as in the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The solutions need to be global in nature. If we’re not safe, the rest of the world is not safe,” he warned.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has, however, warned against discrimination. “A failure to act will have grave consequences for global health,” Lawrence Gostin, Director of the WHO Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law, said on Twitter.
Health officials have emphasized that mpox can infect anyone in close contact with a patient or their contaminated clothing or bedsheets. Researchers are still exploring to establish how it spreads but believe it’s mainly through close, skin-to-skin contact and through contact with bedding and clothing that touched an infected person’s rash or body fluids.
It generally causes mild to moderate symptoms, including fever, fatigue and painful skin lesions that resolve within a few weeks.
Reports, however, said that the mpox had been established in parts of Central and West Africa for decades; it was not known to spark large outbreaks beyond the continent or to spread widely among people until May when authorities detected dozens of epidemics in Europe, North America and elsewhere.
In Africa, mpox mainly spreads to people by infected wild animals like rodents in limited outbreaks that typically have not crossed borders. In Europe, North America and elsewhere, the mpox is spreading among people with no links to animals or recent travel to Africa. In the U.S. and Europe, the vast majority of infections occur among men who have sex with men, though health officials have stressed that anyone can contract the virus.
Access Holdings Merges Sigma, FGPL for Formidable PFA Business
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
To create a formidable pension funds administration (PFA) business in Nigeria, Access Holdings Plc has merged its subsidiary, First Guarantee Pension Limited (FGPL), with Sigma Pensions Limited.
The marriage between the two PFAs was made possible after Access Holdings acquired an indirect equity stake in Sigma.
Recall that in October, the company announced that it was buying a stake in Sigma to revolutionise the PFA sector.
On Thursday, a court approved the merger between the firm and FGPL, giving room for the organisations to become one and offer innovative products to customers.
A notice signed by the group company secretary of Access Holdings, Mr Sunday Ekwochi, confirmed the development.
“Sequel to our announcement on October 25, 2022, Access Holdings Plc, trading as Access Corporation, today announces the completion of its acquisition of an indirect equity stake in Sigma and the merger of its subsidiary, FGPL, with Sigma.
“Following the sanction of the scheme of merger between Sigma and FGPL by the Federal High Court on December 1, 2022, FGPL has been dissolved without winding up, leaving Sigma as the surviving entity,” a part of the statement dated Friday, December 2, 2022.
“Following the successful completion of the merger, our plan is to leverage the synergies of these entities, as well as the corporation’s expansive distribution network, strong risk management culture and best-in-class governance standards to create a formidable pension funds administration business,” the group chief executive of Access Holdings, Mr Herbert Wigwe, stated.
FrieslandCampina Buoys Unlisted Securities Market by 1.11%
By Adedapo Adesanya
The NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange returned to the positive zone on Friday, December 2, as it appreciated by 1.11 per cent at the close of business.
This was driven by a gain in the stock price of FrieslandCampina Wamco Nigeria Plc. The company appreciated by N5.29 price to close at N66.63 per share versus the previous day’s price of N61.34 per share.
This outweighed the 1 Kobo loss recorded by UBN Property Plc during the session as the price of the property investment company went down to 91 Kobo per unit from the preceding session’s 92 Kobo.
When the market closed for the day, the total value of the unlisted securities market increased by N10.27 billion to N933.71 billion from N923.44 billion.
In the same vein, the NASD Unlisted Securities Index (NSI) stretched by 7.82 basis points to 710.58 basis points from the 702.76 basis points in the previous session.
During the session, there was a surge in the volume of securities by 140,993.7 per cent as investors exchanged 2.2 million units, in contrast to the previous day’s 14,508 units.
Likewise, the value of shares traded at the session ballooned by 1,526.6 per cent to N10.7 million from the N657,534.75 recorded a day earlier, while the number of deals improved by 400 per cent to 20 deals from four deals.
When the market closed for the day, AG Mortgage Bank Plc was the most traded stock by volume (year-to-date) with 2.3 billion units valued at N1.2 billion, Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) Plc occupied second place with 687.8 million units worth N14.3 billion, while Lighthouse Financials Services Plc was in third place with 224.7 million units valued at N112.3 million.
Also, CSCS Plc ended the day as the most traded stock by value (year-to-date) by trading 687.8 million units worth N14.3 billion, VFD Group Plc was in second place with 29.1 billion units valued at N7.7 billion, and FrieslandCampina WAMCO Plc was in third place after selling 16.8 million units worth N1.9 billion.
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