Kenneth Obiajulu: Nigerian Nerd Leading The Multi-million Ginger Industry

Agricorp's Founder/CEO, Kenneth Obiajulu

Story by Seye Joseph

There was a need to step up a foreign entity for us to be able to get international partners because being in Nigeria is disadvantaged. We sent quotations and proposals to companies outside Nigeria, they did not respond. The day we incorporated our UK entity, they started responding.

Right from the reception that our correspondent was received at Agripcorp, up to the corridor that led to the CEO’s office, the environment does not only give meaning to a working company, but also represents an ambiance that infuses positive drive, hope, and a green economy.

From the wall clock to the flowers hung on the walls, art, and the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals painting on the walls, everything describes a total working company.

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Agricorp‘s Founder/CEO, Kenneth Obiajulu described the company as a proudly Nigerian startup company that provides global exports to clients of ginger sourced in key trading markets in Kaduna, Nigeria, and currently have an origination processing facility in Nigeria.

Why ginger and not gold or oil? Kenneth explained that the global ginger market will reach $4. 8 Billion by 2027 and Nigeria is presently the third largest ginger producer in the world, accounting for 16% of the global ginger production.

He revealed that the country can only account for 3% of the export market share, adding that Kaduna is the highest producing state in Nigeria, having more than 80% in abundance.

Kenneth explained that they started with ginger in 2018 because of the comparative Nigeria has and the international market is clamoring for Nigeria ginger because of its medicinal content, but the problem was who can they trust in Nigeria to be able to engage and reach out to.

“We had deep experience about the value change and that was a natural space for us to start with because with that people can begin to ask for other products. The buyer who bought ginger from us is demanding turmeric and other spices”, Kenneth explained.

He also added that what they want to do is to clean up the spicy space, where they will support more farmers and grow the commodities in line with a certain standard and process the commodities to meet up with the best standard and packaging, and export them to Africa countries and the middle east and Asia.

In all these, Kenneth explained that the major issue around the development is the credibility of Nigeria itself at the international level as people prefer to go through third parties than coming to buy the product here in Nigeria.

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“We see ourselves as a spices producing, processing and exporting startup much focuses on key spices commodities in Africa start from Nigeria”

He further explained that they are presently expanding their yearly capacity of 2,000 metric tonnes to 7,000.

“We are setting up a structure in Kaduna that allows more processes and packaging at one place, and also expanding to other countries in Africa because of the product’s peculiarity in Nigeria is also applicable in southern and eastern Africa and we intend to apply the working model to those countries”

“There was a need to step up a foreign entity for us to be able to get international partners because being in Nigeria is disadvantaged. We sent quotations and proposals to companies outside Nigeria, they did not respond. The day we incorporated our UK entity, they started responding. It is about credibility and the easier way to capture the export market is to start from other countries and let them feel it”, he said.

CEO CONFIDENTIAL : Kenneth's Passion For Smallholder Farmers

Seeing what they have done, Kenneth said investors have decided to come on board to invest in what they are doing.

Agricorp has raised $17.5 million in Series A funding to increase its processing capacity up to 7000 metric tonnes”

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The fund according to Kenneth was raised from Vami Nigeria, One Capital LLC, and AFEX. He said that Nigerian-based Vami led the funding round with $11.5 million in equity, while the other investors provided working capital financing for the company with Ernst & Young (Nigeria) served as transaction advisers while Elisio Law Office and Pavestone Legal served as legal advisers.

“The opportunity ginger present is huge. We are barely scratching the surface and the ginger market is worth over a billion dollars, we are barely doing 5-million-dollar revenue, and Nigeria being the third-largest producer, there is a lot we can do. It is just remarkable”

“By 2030 African food market will worth 1 trillion dollars by 2030 – world bank estimation report and those that will benefit more are the investors. We have nine years to that and you can see that things are changing. Every sector might be shrinking but not food, not agriculture. We are getting back to our roots and that will increase the sector value. The rest of the world are seeing that Africa is the next place to go”

Agricorp in the next five years, “Because we know that the food market will hit 1 trillion by 2030 and the company that will be able to benefit from that market must be investing now and that is why we are here. We are expanding our operations to Rwanda, South Africa, Kenya amongst others, and growing those regions. We want to position Africa as the continent that will feed the world by 2050.

Just as no industry exists without its own hitches, Kenneth said the major challenge they are coping with is the congestion at the port with unnecessary delays.

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For them, he said it takes them forty days to export their products, which he described as an average waiting time.

“This eroded profits. We need the government to solve this problem, imagine exporting tomatoes or any perishable goods”, he urged.

He also pointed that they are working on accessing funds from the government through the Bank of Industry to boost the business and this has been helpful to people in the agricultural sector. We have approached many of them and we are also on track.

On how Agricorp has been using technology to simplify their activities, Kenneth described technology as a major enabler they have been using at every stage of their works.

“It is not just about picking up the phone and tapping computer. It can be in adopting good agriculture practices, making use of modern tractors to reduce stress and save time,

For instance, rather than just spraying the entire farm with crop protection products, there are certain areas from using drown sensors it can tell you the side that requires this by technology. Soil testing with technology can show the test of your soil and give you an informed decision on what to do. It plays a vital role besides time and money-saving, it brings efficiency, he said.

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