Among the biggest challenges facing agriculture in Nigeria is the disconnect that often exists across the sector’s value chain, whereby producers are not connected to distributors and retailers are far away from consumers. This is the challenge that Àgbẹ̀ Rere Farms Nigeria Limited has chosen to take on. Founded by Babatunji Ogunjobi, a techpreneur, and Kemi Balogun, an SME consultant, Àgbẹ̀ Rere Farms is an Agri-tech company that produces, distributes and retails livestock across Lagos and its environs.
“We started out strictly on production basis – growing organic crops, vegetables and tending livestock,” said Kemi. “We later realized that we could do more as enablers rather than just producers, which led our diversification into a supply chain management for livestock. So, now, our business connects livestock farmers to retailers/consumers thereby enabling hassle-free trading,” she added.
Prior to starting Àgbẹ̀ Rere Farms, Tunji and Kemi visited several states across the country to understand what products were obtainable and how best to model the business. Eventually they found their niche. “Presently, we provide three value propositions; convenience, healthy food supply and farmer-client connect,” says Tunji. “More individuals and companies now have the liberty to order livestock and get it delivered to their doorstep in either live forms or freshly slaughtered and cleaned up.”
Leveraging partnerships and technology, Agbẹ̀ Rere has sold over 500 animals, comprising cows, rams, goats, chickens, turkey, snails, pigs, rabbits, fish and more, within the first 12 months of operation. “We supply our corporate customers livestock as gifts to their priority clients during festive seasons. We currently have over 300 farmers, about half a dozen corporate purchase partners and over 150 retail customers in our portfolio,” Tunji explains.
Of course, Àgbẹ̀ Rere Farms didn’t achieve all of the above without struggles. From the challenge of gathering livestock from different farmers using limited resources, to the hurdles of transporting large animals without a delivery van, Tunji and Kemi, faced trials every step of the way. Now, though, they have a good problem, which is, how to meet up with their growing number of customers. “We now run a structure that promotes telecommuting and teleworking amongst our workforce, which comprises of five individuals,” Kemi explains. “Often times, people are unable to budget adequately for the purchase of livestock, especially during festive seasons, but we have also solved that by offering fixed prices for our produce.”
Although Agbẹ̀ Rere Farms is not yet where its pioneers want it to be, it has gone through a test stage which Tunji terms ‘successful.’
“It’s not usual to see farmers selling livestock on branded brochures and exhibiting animals as though it was electronics at a trade fair, but all of these opened a lot of doors for us,” he enthused. “In the first few months, sales were slow and things looked like they were heading south but today we are pleased with the results. We have not achieved the pictures we saw in our vision but we are definitely on the right path.”
One of the smartest marketing strategy that Agbẹ̀ Rere Farms has implemented was its decision to advertise on the SME Market Hub, a free E-commerce platform powered by GTBank. “E-commerce stores are the best thing to happen to small businesses,” says Tunji. “It gives the best platform to market our products at no cost, all we need to do is satisfy our clients with the best products.”
According to the ‘Good Farmer’ who has a flair for data and business development, Tunji and his business partner intends to grow Agbẹ̀ Rere Farms into a full Agri-tech company with a food processing arm that ensures that agriculturists, farmers, consumers and stakeholders within the agricultural chain get the value they desire.
Having gone through a challenging journey to start and sustain the business, Tunji encourages other entrepreneurs, especially farmers, to look at the brighter side. “The grass is always greener on the other side, regardless of how challenging things might be at the kick off point,” he says.
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