Exploring northern Nigeria’s agribusiness opportunities

Financing for farmers, transport and logistics services for the agricultural sector, and growing food for export to surrounding countries.

These are some of the agribusiness opportunities in northern Nigeria highlighted by Sanusi Ismaila and Surayyah Ahmad Sani, co-founders of venture capital firm Aduna Capital, in a recent interview with How we made it in Africa.

“I think agriculture is definitely a low-hanging fruit by virtue of the fact that most of the food in Nigeria, and much of the food in neighbouring countries, comes from northern Nigeria,” said Surayyah.

She emphasised agri-financing – providing farmers with access to finance – as a potential opportunity.

Additionally, she noted substantial untapped potential in transport and logistics for the agricultural value chain. “We’re currently looking for companies in [B2B] fleet management that can go beyond northern Nigeria to neighbouring countries where these products are being delivered.”

Sanusi identified agro-processing as a promising area, citing Tomato Jos in Kaduna State, which processes tomatoes into tomato paste and has secured venture capital funding.

“There’s a huge opportunity for producing food for export from Nigeria,” Sanusi observed. He referred to Veggie Plus, a company that distributes strawberries and vegetables like bell peppers across Nigeria and is a major supplier for large supermarkets. “I think most of their business is domestic. But if I were to get involved with that kind of business, I think I would focus all their efforts on exporting. It’s a tough problem to crack, but the upside is worth pursuing.”

He recalled a past venture where bell peppers were exported from Jos to the UK for supermarket chain Tesco, which ceased due to increasing banditry. However, he believes similar opportunities still exist.

Surayyah also pointed out that northern Nigeria’s strategic location positions it well to serve neighbouring countries like Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. This view aligns with that of industrialist Abdul Samad Rabiu, founder of BUA Group, as expressed in a previous How we made it in Africa article.

“Part of what we’re looking at is the scalability because we want companies that can scale outside northern Nigeria to other parts of Africa and by extension, globally. But there are a lot of local opportunities in food processing,” Sanusi added.

Read our full interview with Sanusi Ismaila and Surayyah Ahmad Sani: Beyond Lagos – Investment opportunities in northern Nigeria