AgroEknor Seeks to Transform Superfoods Value Chain

July 20, 2022

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.

Adedapo Adesanya

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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