• Monday, July 22, 2024
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Why e-commerce is must for smallholder farmers, says Akande

Why e-commerce is must for smallholder farmers, says Akande

Lola Akande, Lagos State commissioner for commerce, industry and cooperatives, has harped on the need for smallholder farmers to embrace electronic-commerce (e-commerce), saying it will help them maximise the value of their agribusiness.

Akande stated this at a three-day capacity building for MSME operators in agribusiness, themed “The relevance of e-commerce as catalyst to agribusiness value chain in a 21st century economy,” which kicked off in Lagos on Monday.

According to her, e-commerce in agriculture has emerged as an alternative model to formalise informal value chains, as it enables purchases and sales of produce online.

“E-commerce allows farmers to by-pass intermediaries and sell directly to various customer groups that would have otherwise been out of reach. And based on the fact that agriculture inputs require live animals and perishable items, it has remained a delicate sector that should adapt to an e-commerce platform,” she said.

The Lagos official said although the concept of e-commerce in agriculture is new in developing economies like Nigeria where approximately 70 percent of the population engages in agricultural production at a subsistence level, leveraging it to drive inputs to farmers and solve their common problems has become imperative.

She said, “Nigeria is the 33rd largest market for e-commerce with a revenue of $6.9 billion in 2021, placing it ahead of Denmark and behind Colombia. With an increase of 30 percent, the Nigerian e-commerce market contributed to the worldwide growth rate of 15 percent in 2021.

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“Just like in Nigeria, global e-commerce sales are expected to increase over the next few years. With a predicted yearly growth rate of 12 percent between 2021 and 2025, Nigeria is expected to outperform the global average of 6 percent.

This rapid growth in e-commerce has the potential to address long-standing deficiencies in the Nigerian agricultural sector, and transform agribusinesses – a sector that is the primary source of income for the majority of Nigerian households.

“This opportunity presents itself at a time when the sector is declining in productivity due to a range of challenges, including constrained supply of inputs, inefficient sales markets, and low levels of competition among intermediaries across supply chains.”

Facilitators at the programme, including Joshua Odewale, who retired from the Nigerian Institute for Oil-Palm Research (NIFOR), also aligned with Akande on the need for Afriaca’s largest economy to drive digital literacy, upgrade of ICT infrastructure, address inequitable access to smartphones/ internet as well as encourage digital transactions even at the rural areas where most farmers are based.