Information technology drives any sector and increases productivity, including agriculture. AFRIMASH Company Limited, an indigenous agriculture eCommerce platform, has introduced a ground-breaking USSD technology and Agent Network system for farmers to have access to farm inputs at the click of a button in order to improve food production and security. Industry observers and stakeholders have described the company as innovative and the first of its kind in the country. Using these two technologies, Afrimash is poised to improve the way farmers engage in rural areas of the country.
Our USSD code, *2282*2#, and Agent Network System are unique in the Agri-tech ecosystem and are posed as solutions to the challenges farmers face in rural communities. Speaking to the media on the importance of the newly introduced USSD technology, Ayoade Ahmed Oyedotun, the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Afrimash Company Limited said; “In partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), we started the Agent Network, which tries to solve the critical problem of getting quality agricultural inputs for farmers. AFRIMASH has over 3,000 products on its platform and we are passionate about helping farmers gain easy access to them. What we did was to get agents in every community to serve these farmers and farming clusters, ask them what they need, help them place their orders on our platforms and get them delivered. In collaboration with USAID and GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit), we started this network in sixteen (16) states, Kaduna, Kebbi, Adamawa, Yobe, Gombe, Borno, Benue, Niger, Ebonyi, Delta, Cross River, Oyo, Osun, Lagos, Ogun and Ekiti. “
Ayoade continued saying; “Across each state, we have a minimum of a hundred agents. When you multiply it by these sixteen states, we have over a thousand six hundred agents across these states. This has positively impacted our finances and revenue. We have created jobs for over a thousand six hundred people and we have also been able to reach more than one hundred and twenty-three thousand farmers across the nation.”
Though farmers found it hard to trust this method of business transaction due to their familiarity with the traditional method, the company was able to surmount it by engaging reputable and credible people in various communities.
In the words of Collins Okeke, Programs Manager, Afrimash Company Limited; “We initially had the challenge of lack of trust. Farmers were used to the ‘cash and carry a model of transactions, but we are disrupting that and changing the narrative. In surmounting this issue, what gave us an edge was the profile of the agents we worked with. We used reputable individuals in the community as our agents. We also collaborated with the Ministry of Agriculture and worked with their Agric Extension officers. Using these methods has worked and has helped us scale. “
With regards to the USSD technology, it has made it possible for farmers that do not have smartphones to access products and farming input. Afrimash’s USSD code is basically focused on farm input purchase and delivery to farmers in any part of the country. Speaking on this, Oreoluwa Familoni, the Marketing Manager at Afrimash added; “Our USSD code, *2282*2# can be accessed via any network. The USSD option grants access to lots of products in various categories. Features under the USSD option include order placements, shipping options, wallet, hot deals, and much more. By using this code, farmers can be notified of the nearest pickup locations for them to pick up their products. We will also be providing free shipping to 6 selected states- Lagos, Ogun, Abuja, Rivers, Delta, and Edo states, in the month of October for day-old chicks and day-old turkeys categories. Farmers can simply dial the code and register now to be notified by SMS when the promo and other promos launch.”