As the world struggles to wriggle out of the clutches of the coronavirus pandemic, which has sent shock waves across almost all major economic sectors including the agricultural landscape, impacting food systems and threatening investments, Head Agribusiness and FMCG – BOI Investment and Trust Company, a subsidiary of the Bank of Industry Nigeria, Mrs. Victoria Madedor in a Twitter chat organised by AgribusinessCentre @Agro_Centre #ManagingRisk series, maps out a survival path for Nigeria’s agribusiness operators. EMMANUEL OGBONNAYA Writes.
“Our farmers and food processors are the true heroes in Nigeria” said Madedor, before proceeding to answer salient questions bordering on the survival of Nigeria’s agribusiness sector in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which has stifled economic activities globally.
Asked what her position was on business collaboration, she defined the concept as the connection formed by two or more businesses to achieve a growth goals in their organization, which mostly occurs as shared resources either in; Technology, Funding, Marketing or Supply chain management.
She goes on to state that collaborations in the Agribusiness sector occurs mostly as shared technology and supply chain resources, revealing that there are organizations currently sharing digital platform to enable them have a better product market reach instead of building new digital infrastructure.
According to her, one of the sectors that boasts of strong collaborations was the poultry sector, particularly in the supply chain to reduce post-harvest losses.
Currently a large egg producer she knows, was collaborating with producers to create last mile market for eggs taking into consideration the impact of #COVID19.
Asked her views on the observed lack of cohesion and synergy among players in the agriculture value chain, Madedor pointed out that the existence of poor synergies between players in the sector was due to lack of trust and ownership mentality.
“Everyone wants to be in the spotlight even as a micro-business, thus padding their competence level only to under-deliver.
“Take the poultry sector as a case study.
“To effectively survive you need to be part of an organized institution, to know when to buy maize, where and most efficient logistics partners, unaware of the shared warehousing structure of grains, you can’t price compete,” she illustrated.
On the aspect of coordination among cottage sector operators, Madedor, noted that the informal sector had the most coordinated and effective collaboration.
“A garri trader sends a member to buy garri with complete trust, unfortunately this doesn’t exist with the formal cottage industries the lack of trust and unhealthy competition hampers growth
“In my work, I have also seen poor support system for cottage industries as a result of poor ecosystem development. Fortunately in the recent times cellulantNG, (Cellulant is a leading Pan-African technology company providing a one-stop digital payments platform anchored on consumer, internet & marketplace payments) amongst others have created a working ecosystem for SMEs in the dry agro product space,” she said.
Asked how government at all levels was supposed deal with fragments of players in the Agribusiness sector, instead of a wholesome and growing industry, Madedor responded that collaboration was the solution for this problem, “as it will allow agribusinesses effectively share structured resources from logistics to technology etc. Some businesses will have adequate market reach if they are able to go digital, but due to high cost of tech infrastructure they are unable to launch while some people have Tech infrastructure that can co-host and reduce cost for them but are either unwilling, or don’t trust competitors while at the same time accumulating cost for excess tech space.
“These empty spaces can be used as storage hubs to businesses in the fresh food delivery. Products can be sourced and logistics shared by all players. Like MTN and (defunct) Etisalat sharing Tech infrastructure. This collabo can be replicated in the food sector.
“Collaboration will help mitigate risk for players in the sector mostly at this time of COVID19. In the fresh food sector it will reduce post-harvest lost if sellers can collaborate with cold stores mostly in Lagos at the time where import is almost zero,” she said.
Asked the type of collaboration models that agribusiness entrepreneurs can embrace and their unique benefits, she identified two: Marketplace model; a tech enabled model where all players come together using the platform to find resources and the Tech Shared model – where players can share digital platforms to access and create market for their products.
She further mentioned Institutions/ Organized sector models based on collaboration between members of the organized associations to trade within and create market for their products. Using shared logistics and marketing resources. A typical example she gave was Abu’s Market collaborating with Eweko farmers’ cooperative.
“He offtakes their product for his market and provide them with shared logistics to their other customers in Lagos area. As a member of the cooperative, he is given 1st right of refusal knowing he will ensure their other products gets to other customers at no extra cost,” she explained.
Madedor listed some benefits of collaboration to include: Reduced cost of operation (Infrastructure & raw materials).
”Inspires you to improve your standards as you can communicate, share and brainstorm with your co-operators on lessons learnt.
“Improves your valuable network and market share as you create your differentiating value from your competitors.
“Provide a better access to financing (This is a topic on its own) and improves supply chain and logistics.”
She further noted that these highlighted benefits improves profitability as cost are cut in efficient ways and market shares are increased.
“However in collaboration to be effective we need to consider 3 important things – Brand Equity, integrity and Cost structure, as these are the pillars for which collaborations fail. The collaboration between @CorpFarmersTV (Corporate Farmers Int Ltd) and @cellulantNG, which they are celebrating today is because these three things exist. There exist trust between partners, brand equity is contributed and cost is managed.
“You must have something to bring to the table else no one will collaborate with you. So the draw backs are lack of these 3 key things,” she said.
Asked to throw light on how stakeholders can ensure successful collaboration among players in the industry for a more meaningful and sustainable contribution of agribusiness to the nation’s economy, Madedor noted that the good thing about most ecosystems was that they carry out KYC (Know Your Customer) for their members/partners.
She added that joining an ecosystem that works was one way to ensure successful collaboration.
“Know your value proposition, who you will like to collaborate with as this will strengthen your position.
“Ensure the expectations from both parties are clearly defined from the onset above all it must be mutual. Both parties must be willing to create innovative ways that will make it work.
“Trust, Integrity, Willingness and interpersonal relationships will sustain collaboration.
“In Nigeria, I will suggest private sector. There are no sentiments attached to such collaborations and everyone will come with specific goals and timelines to achieve them. Private sector collaborations can be monitored and evaluated effectively. My perspective,” she said.
In conclusion Madedor addeed that as a business, the 1st attitude to learn was to speak the truth at all times about your current capacity not proposed capacity.
“Understand that seeking help is not a weakness but a strength mostly in agribusiness.
“Your value differentiates you and keeps you in the spotlight, not your aggressive marketing on social media. Word of mouth is still the best form of marketing.
“To succeed we do not compete we collaborate, let us learn from the ICT sectors.
“Institutions should learn to create value not just gather people. If your membership isn’t paying off (after some years), please take a walk.
“To survive post COVID19 we have no other choice than to find collaborators now.
“Agriculture has its associated risk from cash flow, raw materials, financing and access to market. Let us collaborate not to only survive but to also change the narrative of agriculture in Nigeria,” she said.
Victoria is currently the Agribusiness Expert at BOI Investment and Trust Company, a subsidiary of the Bank of Industry Nigeria. Mrs. Victoria Madedor holds a B.Agric. degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Benin, Nigeria and Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA).
She is also a Fellow, Institute of Management Consultants (FIMC); Senior Member, Chartered Institute of Public Diplomacy and Management; and Fellow, Institute of Agribusiness Management, Nigeria.
She is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Marketing and Innovation (MA) at the Metropolitan School of Business, UK. Victoria is an experienced Business Development Consultant with a focus on the Agricultural Sector and an Oracle Certified Administrator.
Victoria moved to the United Global Resources Company, where her work was geared towards Project Management, as the Project Coordinator of a Team of ICT trainers for Oracle and Microsoft packages to many blue-chip companies and schools.
Victoria is a Resource person for G.A.I.N-PLAN, a UK-AID program, TLS services Ltd,
Lagos State Government -Ready. Set. Work program, to mention a few. She is also a motivational speaker. Victoria is happily married with four amazing children.
In order to successfully understand the SME space, she has undergone several trainings with London Business School (MOOC), Metropolitan School of Business, UK, and Centre for Development Innovation, Wageningen UR Netherlands.
As a result of her passion for youth & women development, Victoria is a volunteer mentor to the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women; Google Accelerator Launch Pad; LASG-Ready Set Work Program; her experience has taken her to Shell Petroleum Development Company, where she worked as a Systems Analyst responsible for implementing systems migration unto Linux Servers.