blurry imageThe heart of our commodities trade; A look into the logistics team at AFEX.

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The heart of our commodities trade; A look into the logistics team at AFEX.

Precious OkoroJune 10, 2024

Mobility, logistics, supply, trucks, warehouses, security - all words used over and over in supply chain management. For us at AFEX, championing efficient trade and wealth creation through the commodities market involves focusing on solutions that empower producers, boost productivity, and ensure the right quality and quantity of commodities reach local and regional markets.

In this 4-part series, we met the AFEX logistics team, where we explored their crucial role in ensuring efficient and secure movement of goods from origin to destination, from maintaining product quality and safety to meeting precise requirements of quantity, location, timing, and cost.

Let’s dive in:

For this piece, we sat with Kenneth Etumni, Senior Analyst, Logistics AFEX Fair Trade Nigeria, who took us behind the scenes of his activities within the logistics squad here. He talks about procedures for conducting activities around agricultural commodities and handling the movement of commodities from point A to B while spotlighting industry norms and company standards in Nigeria.

Hi, thank you for taking our seat, can we know you?

Hi, I’m Kenneth. Currently a senior analyst with the logistics squad here in AFEX. I’ve worked in a variety of roles here. I started as a collateral manager in Lagos, then a stint as a sales professional analyst, and now I am an operational logistics analyst.

You’ve done quite a bit of moving around, are the roles similar?

Uhmm, yeah. My entire work history has involved roles that play a part in the supply chain. So, yes. The major responsibility of a logistic officer is to monitor the movements of a commodity that is on the move. As a collateral manager, I had to ensure that our inventory records were right. This entails both quality and quantity. For the sales, it’s in the name. I had to seek clients. For me, it’s been like linking the chains in supply.

You sound excited talking about it. Lol, you can say that. The skills I learned from the first role are my lifesavers now. They prepared me for my current position in the company and it’s thrilling thinking about the everyday activities that we come across daily on the job.

Care to share some of these activities with us?

I think it differs in each sector. For us in the agricultural commodities landscape, it’s beyond just ordering, sending out, and reaching the client. To ensure efficient delivery of these agro-commodities, our logistics process involves a flow through procurement, storage, inventory management, order picking and dispatch, and finally, the transport and delivery of goods. In Nigeria, trust is the major currency for any deal. Do the clients trust you enough to deliver the actual quantity and quality they paid for? Do they trust you have the actual means to deliver it at the stated time?

So, we can buy maize with trust? I want to also buy some bags of paddy rice.

Bring your cash as well o. The thing is moving goods comes with numerous challenges. Delays due to deplorable roads, halt because of different levies at different locations. Restrictions and policies also affect, and these clients are aware, but business must go on. They need to trust you can deliver no matter what the problem is. We’ve had issues with trucks loaded with bags of commodities going missing and had to replace the orders.

Sounds like a huge load of risks. How do we manage this?

I’ll quote our GCEO, Ayodeji Balogun “Growing what is to be the largest supply chain infrastructure to unlock capital for the agricultural sector and improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers is a big goal. It is now a big achievement but requires commitment, courage, and resilience.” We work with this.

Managing a supply chain is a complex task, beyond tackling foreseeable concerns. It also requires considering immediate threats like security issues, environmental factors, and rising operational costs. This includes spiking fuel prices and the increased expense of hiring trucks. We try to function in a way that reduces losses to the barest minimum.

Are there certain norms for the industry?

Yes, a lot. We need to ensure commodities get from point A to point B in good quality and safe conditions - getting the right product, to the right customer, in the right quantity, in the right condition, at the right place, at the right time, and the right cost.

Looking back at your journey from collateral manager to senior analyst, what excites you most about the future of logistics in Africa, especially for agricultural commodities?

Excitement? (chuckles) Honestly, right now it's more about fixing everyday problems. You know, just getting some peace of mind when we send a truck out. But hey, when we work out logistics perfectly, it'll be a game-changer for food security across the continent.

The pandemic was a nightmare for logistics. We have had stories for days about that. We need systems that can handle anything, not just the everyday bumps. Here’s the thing: those challenges also showed us what's possible. We adapted, found workarounds, and kept things moving. Efficient logistics is the key. It means getting food where it needs to go, faster, with less waste. It means better prices for farmers and more food on everyone's tables. That's the future I'm excited about, even if it takes some sweat and elbow grease to get there.

This is the first part of the series on the Heart of our Commodities Trade at AFEX. Look out for other stories in the coming posts.

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