Lanre Awojoodu, the Chief Executive Officer of Sourcing and Produce-one of the leading agricultural trading companies in Africa, says his firm is working to unlock the potential of the agricultural sector to contribute to sustainable and inclusive growth for Africa.
Awojoodu stated this in a statement issued in Lagos and has directly exported agricultural commodities to 27 countries globally from Nigeria.
He revealed that the company is establishing its footprints across African markets, especially with the incorporation of Sourcing and Produce Tanzania Ltd, noting that the agricultural sector has limitless opportunities that can be explored in the export market.
The businessman disclosed that the company has also just incorporated Sourcing and Produce Inc, in the US and urged investors to take advantage of this unique opportunity by doing business with credible export organizations, as this would help to meet growing demands for agricultural produce and earn better returns on their investments.
He stated that it was gratifying to note that despite the limited access to investment capital which has further negatively impacted agricultural export growth, the company was defying all the odds to make agriculture produce available to its customers in several parts of the world.
He, therefore, called for the support of government particularly in the area of access to loans noting that making funds available for export companies would encourage them to be part of the regulated commodity platform.
“I would suggest an NXP pre-financing scheme, this will really help the government and exporters. Government makes available affordable loans for exporters who have a track record of NXP’s.”
“Let us say a situation where you can get a loan of 50-70% of your NXP value of the previous year in a loan. If you default, then you are blacklisted. Capital needs to be cheaper to be able to compete on prices globally. A framework along this line will be positive. The Government will see more exporters using Importer and Exporter FX window.”
Speaking on some of the challenges confronting the export market, he explained that getting credible customers, funding, poor road infrastructure and cost of freight remains the biggest drawbacks affecting the business noting that over the last 10 years, the business has gone through many phases.
“Getting credible customers, in the beginning, was a challenge. How do you get them to trust and respect you as a Nigerian? I sold this by leveraging my relationships with people I knew abroad to help me engage customers. For example, I searched for a Dutch friend to help engage a Dutch customer. Apart from that, the Cost of Funding is another major issue,” he said.
In this part of the world, agric commodity export is a capital-intensive business. A $1million dollar investment is even just the start. A container of ginger pepper is about N25million, this means with N100million you may not do so much before the season ends.”
Sourcing and Produce currently exports to five continents across the globe trading on key Agric commodities such as Beans, Ginger, Turmeric, Pepper, Sesame Seeds, Cashew Nuts, Arabic Gum and more.