The Lagos International Food and Beverage Fair (LIFBEF) Africa, which started in 2012 has grown to be a destination for all those in the agricultural value chain of food and beverages from the farm to the table. In an interview with the convener, Khadijah Tebun, she explains how technology can make an impact on agriculture in Nigeria.
What is the LIFBEF Africa all about?
The Lagos International Food and Beverage Fair (LIFBEF) Africa is a convergence of all those involved in the food and beverage business in Nigeria. It will be starting on Thursday, September 27 till Sunday, September 30 at the National stadium in Surulere, Lagos State. The theme is, driving food security through technology.
The industry has peculiar needs and peculiar discussions on agriculture will be discussed at the convergence. Asides that, the fair will be to showcase the food and beverage industry in Nigeria. The idea is to showcase what we have in Nigeria, bring in foreign exhibitors to make our people know what operates in other parts of the world.
There will be masterclasses for those who are already doing the business and those who want to go into the food and beverage business. It takes a lot to be a producer in the industry.
This year, the fair will be about knowing the soil, Soiless farming, photography as a tool to growing your business and how to use the social media to market agricultural produce. It won’t just be about exhibition, rather, they will take something away from it.
What is the focus this year?
This year, we will be focusing on agriculture and more specifically, soiless farming. Next year, we will be focusing on processing and how to avoid food wastage. By that time, companies that turn orange into powder form will be one of our targets.
What our people need is exposure to technology and that is what will drive us. Also, the focus will be on creating opportunities for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Small companies do not have exposure to training as well as access to the regulators. The National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) registration is dreaded by many because they feel it’s difficult; meanwhile, it’s very easy. The Agency will be on ground to teach them how to go about their registration. There is a smaller registration for micro SMEs now. NAFDAC will be at the fair to mentor those who have no NAFDAC number by explaining the process involved.
We are targeting small companies and big ones alike that produce and process agricultural produce from farm to table. Our targets are companies that produce Agriculture Biotech, food technology, food machinery, Agric technology, and Processing from start to finish.
What is the target for this year?
Our target is to have 100 companies exhibiting at the fair, including the SMEs, MSMEs and the big companies as well as 20,000 visitors. Our target is also to have exhibitors from not only Nigeria and Africa, but from all over the world. Right now, our exhibitors are still Nigerians and a few foreigners too.
Who are some of the guests and collaborators at the fair?
Our speaker is Prof Ndubuisi Ekwekwe. He is a Nigerian inventor, engineer, entrepreneur, and he developed a technology called ‘Zenvus’ that help a farmer to know the quality of soil, the time when the yield will come, and if you need money from the bank, the kind of details that will be required, is what Zenvus will provide. It helps the farmer not to farm anyhow or waste time and fertiliser. The soil will make the farmer know he can plant maize and not rice on his farm. That is what the technology does and it is invented by a Nigerian.
The second speaker is Samson Ogbole, he is the man that invented soiless farming in Nigeria. It’s about farming without planting into the ground. Instead of planting by digging the ground, he plants vertically upward. For his type of farming, he uses air and water. It is not chemical-based. He is also concerned about climate change, food safety, the climate effect, and growing food whether there is rain or sun. He has done it in some farms, including Obasanjo farm. He is going to talk about what can be achieved in growing our food products. If people can learn the simple ways of such technology, many will grow fresh fruits and vegetables at the back of their house and food insecurity or reliance on processed foods, will reduce. With this, food won’t be only seasonal, there will be continuous production.
We have collaborated with the Bank of Industry, NAFDAC, Bank of Agriculture and some other agencies.
What is the high point of the event?
This is the first time a convergence is happening. In previous editions, it was only exhibition and nothing more. But, this time around, there will be people from both the government and private sector to brainstorm, enlighten and further assist those in the agricultural food value chain.
What does the SME agripreneur stand to gain through the fair?
One on one interaction with government and regulatory agencies such as NAFDAC and BOI, exposure, access to the market, access to raw materials.
For those who want to go into the Agric business, they will see that it is possible and there are immense opportunities therein.