Nigeria’s livestock ecosystem is one stressful, sweaty, sunburnt lot. You probably know what this means if you’ve ever been on the ground at any of the country’s major livestock markets. This is true even for people who are buying their cows and goats from a trusted supplier. You’d certainly not want to be wandering around in the afternoon’s heat, pushing irritable traders for lower prices while soaking up the odour of ammonia through your nostrils.
What if you could buy your cattle without wandering, haggling or breaking a sweat? How about ordering truckloads of cows online, from wherever you are?
That’s what Livestock 247 wants to achieve. They’re Nigeria’s first online livestock market, and they’re working to cut the problems of distance, limited choice and pricing disputes out of the business of trading cattle. They’re making it possible for Nigerians to buy and sell livestock from the comfort of their homes, offices or wherever they may be.
Livestock 247 operates like your regular e-commerce store. Merchants list their cattle for sale on the website, and buyers choose and order their preferred variety from verified suppliers. In simple terms, it’s matching dealers with willing customers, and giving them the most efficient means possible to initiate and wrap up the purchase of livestock. Certified veterinary officers also make sure that the animals on sale are disease-free.
You might wonder why Nigeria hasn’t had a dedicated online marketplace for trading cattle set up before now. There are at least 3,000 truckloads of livestock shipped across Nigeria everyday. This also represents a huge amount of human movement, including of people who would be buying the cattle. Besides this, there are also thousands of middlemen who raise prices along the supply chain and gain from the resultant bloated profit margins. Surely, anyone with the technology to solve these problems was always going to reap handsome rewards from it.
It does seem that the drawback for many would-be tech-driven disruptors of the livestock market has been that the ecosystem isn’t teeming with people enthusiastic about lapping up digital solutions to their age-old problems. At least, this has been the case until very recently. It might be that there’s a growing receptiveness to new ideas in the space. Livestock 247 appears to be banking on this understanding of today’s cattle trading business.
Ibrahim Maigari, Founder and CEO of Livestock 247, certainly thinks the space is ripe for digital transformation. He says his new company is aiding the government’s efforts to improve conditions in the livestock industry; as far as he’s concerned, merchants and investors will see the business sense in selling online, and they’ll latch on to it.
He appeared quite confident of this when he spoke at the launching of Livestock 247, which happened in Lagos early in November. Other speakers at the event, including the company’s chairperson, Amina Oyagbola, seemed convinced that they were going to pull off an expansion of the livestock market to the online space.
But the team at Livestock 247 wants to do more than just get rid of middlemen and travel stress. They’re also concerned about ensuring that all livestock on sale are disease free and don’t pose any health risks to human consumers. They hope to do this by tracking each animal’s progress from the farms in which they’re grown, to the markets in which they’re put up for sale. The key to achieving this will be the platform’s network of certified veterinary agents, who will be present in every major livestock market in the country, and will be checking that animals are fit for consumption.
It’s hard to tell how the burgeoning online livestock marketplace will turn out in the short run. But it’s almost inconceivable that we’ll carry on selling our cows and sheep as we’ve always done. Livestock 247 may well be the start of a new, tech-inspired era in Nigeria’s livestock trading industry, a space that’s stayed largely unaffected by the global digital revolution.