ANALYSIS: Transforming Fertiliser Distribution: Notore’s Delivery Revolution

Fertiliser bags used to illustrate the story.
Fertiliser bags used to illustrate the story.

The distribution of fertiliser products to Nigeria’s farmers has been a long running problem in Nigeria. There are huge challenges facing businesses looking to effectively distribute their products in a way that is reliable, efficient and cost-effective for both the distributor and the end users.

“Our nation’s small-scale farmers have suffered for too long in the face of a poorly funded and inefficiently executed distribution chain that has failed to provide them with the fertiliser products they so desperately need in order to raise the productivity of their farms,” Notore CEO, Onajite Okoloko, recently expressed.

FUNDAMENTAL CHALLENGES

One of the most important obstacles is the state of existing infrastructure in Nigeria. Poor roads, a lack of investment and a challenging climate all combine to make it difficult for any distributor to trust that they can rely on the network to deliver their products on time at a reasonable cost. Consider this incredible statistic: Nigeria loses around two per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) every single year because the nation’s infrastructure simply is not up to the job. Taking Nigeria’s GDP in 2016 as N101.59 trillion, that represents a loss of around N2.03 trillion.

FAILING CUSTOMERS

Another issue with fertiliser distribution chains in Nigeria in the past has been that the products have failed to reach or be accessible to those who need them most – and when they do, they are either adulterated to increase profits before they are sold on, or have been distributed in quantities that many small-scale farmers have been unable to afford. Farmers have had to travel long distances to buy fertilisers that are poor quality to begin with, and have then tried to use them without the support network of experienced and professional advisers who could help them to use the products effectively. The end result has been that many farmers have come to see fertilisers as expensive and ineffective – and strictly in terms of the experiences that many have with inferior, overpriced product in the past, it is hard to disagree with them.

A NEW WAY FORWARD

However Notore’s revolutionary model for its fertiliser supply chain is beginning to change these perceptions. Notore’s approach improves on what has gone before in a number of ways.

The first is in terms of affordability and wealth generation. Notore took a huge step forward by breaking bulk and reducing bag size – making it easier for small farmers to buy its products – but they have also created a supply chain that encourages entrepreneurship at a local level. Its extensive network of Village Promoters are now effectively running their own small businesses, selling on the products to local customers at an affordable rate.

This wealth generation extends to the Agro Dealers who supply the Village Promoters, and indeed the Transport Partners who supply the Agro Dealers.

CHANGING PERCEPTIONS

The second benefit Notore’s unique approach to its distribution network has brought is that it is making a huge difference in terms of farmers’ perceptions of fertiliser use. Thanks once again to the dedication and expertise of Notore’s Village Promoters and its teams of extension workers on the ground, farmers are now seeing the direct, and very practical benefits of using premium fertiliser, in the correct way, on their land.

“It’s a gradual, but very real revolution,” said Mr Okoloko. “We’re beginning to make real progress in terms of domestic fertiliser use, and our ground-breaking model for distributing has had a big part to play in this.”


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