Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange, the fifth of its kind in Nigeria today, was recently established, though not yet officially commissioned, in the suburbs of Kano by some patriotic indigenes of the state cum businessmen, under the auspices of Gezawa Integrated Farms Ltd., to, among other things, help in complimenting government’s efforts to enhance the growth and development of commodities exchanges as alternative sources of revenue, jobs creation, and above all, assisting Nigerian farmers achieve value for their farm produce.

This initiative is no doubt a commendable one as it is coming at a time when Nigeria is singing the chorus of diversifying her economy and Forex earnings, the sure routine to take in this regard, therefore, is no doubt via functional commodities market exchanges where all asset classes: agriculture, hydrocarbon, and solid minerals etc. are tradeable in the most efficient and transparent manner and the quality of tradeable commodities are guaranteed.

A Team of Green Monitor’s Editors, a sister publication of Education Monitor, recently embarked on a two  day tour of the Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange to see for themselves what the market is really up to, and to hear from the market’s Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Malam Muhammad Rabiu El-Yaqoub, who in an elaborate interview revealed how the market plans to set pace in modern agribusiness in Nigeria.

The interview goes thus:


Your background Sir?

My name is Muhammad Rabiu El Yaqoub, I am the Managing Director of the Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange, and basically, I am a kano man. I went to ABU Zaria where i studied Business administration in my first degree and also obtained my MBA.

I worked for most part of my life at the New Nigerian Development Company (NNDC) Kaduna Group, where I served in different subsidiaries in the main office. I later left the NNDC in 2016, to join Gezawa Commodity Market in the early part of this year (2021).


Conceptualization of the market

Gezawa Commodity Market and exchange is a concept that was evolved as a strategy to actualize the goals of self-reliance, diversification and economic development of our nation, you will realize that the basic thrust of this administration in terms of agriculture provides a lot of opportunities in the whole of agricultural value chain. And Gezawa Commodity Market and exchange was designed to take advantage of that opportunity in the Agric value chain as part of the self-reliance policy of this administration and the importance the administration has attached to agriculture. We have all seen the successes recorded in terms of production of rice and other staple crops. As a result this policy, the administration has given  a lot of priorities to agriculture, and Gezawa commodity market and exchange decided to key into the government’s initiative, especially giving the fact that it’s our intention to take advantage of the opportunities that abound in the agricultural value chain. Because of this government’s policy therefore, today, Nigeria is now more or less self-reliant in rice production.


Why the choice of Gezawa as location of the market?

Gezawa is a very unique area in Kano State, we realized that Kano city itself is chucked up with so much infrastructure. But, Gezawa is just a stone throw away from Kano, about 24kms, to be precise. Gezawa provides serene atmosphere where one can establish a whole business hub like this with much availability of land and it’s also a place quite renown for agriculture.


Owners/Founders of the market 

Gezawa is a 100% privately owned business, owned by Gezawa Integrated Farms Ltd, in conjunction with a couple of some private individuals who are investors in the project.


Challenges at the beginning

The challenges faced at the beginning of the construction of the market are not many, actually, and this is because the principal promoters of this business happened to have more relations in Gezawa, with many years of extensive links. So, the community here has accepted Gezawa Commodity Market and exchange as its own project. In fact, the community has been very cooperative, right from the formation stage of this company. The government too, has been cooperative in terms of giving approvals to start the project. So, I must say that we are very happy that the challenges we faced in the evolution of Gezawa Commodity Market and exchange are not many; and we thank God for this.


Partnership with government.

As I said earlier, Gezawa Commodity Market and exchange is 100% privately owned by Investors. I must agree with you that this kind of business idea needs government’s support in terms of policies and regulations that will support the business because it’s actually a new concept that will require some kind of support from government to make it succeed. But as for ownership, its 100% privately owned.


Getting farm produce

Gezawa has a system designed to ensure that the supply chain for the produce that we will be dealing with here, are well established. We have Farmers’ Support groups, Farmers’ cooperatives that we have registered with us. We have over 3000 different cooperatives with almost 40,000 members that registered to collaborate with us to ensure that the produce that are needed to be traded in this market are made available at the right time, and the right quantities.

However, we also go to different markets, especially outside Kano state. We also go to several other markets in the entire north to source for other produce that will not be available in the immediate environment.


Business relationship with other countries

Gezawa Commodity Market and exchange is designed to be an international hub, to have trading platforms that will be live 24/7 all over the world, as soon as we become operational, our market will extend beyond Africa, our market will be in the whole world where people who are into commodity trading business will view us online and will see our products and prices, and can easily place orders from all over the world through their brokers.

So, the concept of the marketing of Gezawa is a worldwide thing from wherever you are in the world if you’re able to see our platform and you will be able to trade directly through your broker. While doing this, we don’t need a special arrangement for selling our products.


Any data or statistics of amount spent in establishing this state-of-the-art market?

The investment so far made in Gezawa Commodity Market and exchange is quite enormous, and, as at the level that we are, we are still planning to go into phase two in the future. I don’t have the accurate figure, but, I can assure you that construction of the market is still ongoing. Actually, we are done with phase One. In the future, we are also going to phase 2. If the figures are ready, we will make them available to the public, if it becomes necessary.


Can you confidently say you are on the right track?

By the grace of God, we are. What we need to understand is that right now there are five commodities exchanges registered in Nigeria by the Security and Exchange Commission, One of which is Gezawa, and there may still be many more that will come up in the future.

The size of the agricultural economy in Nigeria is quite large and we have the feeling that it will accommodate all actors in the field. So, we are confident that we are on the right track and the opportunities that abound in the agricultural sector will be enough to justify our existence.

So, we don’t have any doubt that we are on the right track and the future is very bright for us.


Expected or projected Annual return

We are actually just starting. In fact, we have just been able to start the stock market just recently, where we opened our doors for the basic trading in commodities, people who have commodities are free now to come and trade in our premises and through our subsidiaries, we have also appointed market makers who will also help us to kick start activities in the market. So, at the moment, we are just trying to evolve the activities, and very soon we will have the concept much more clearer, especially when the exchange itself becomes operational, because as it is now, the exchange is not operational. What we are trying to do now is to complete the infrastructure required in terms of the platform and the IT software we are going to be using.


When do you hope to see the market become fully active?

We are hoping that by the end of this year, the market should be fully active and operational in most of the areas that have been identified as our core business.

Staff population of the market at the moment

Right now, our staff strength is about 50. As we are just starting, the management’s software is just being put in place and as soon as activities pick up, our staff strength will definitely go up, higher than the present level.


Special message for government

Actually, the opportunities that abound in the agricultural value chain are very enormous and with the importance attached to agriculture by the present administration, opportunities will only go up and not down. So, the concept of commodity exchange is the in thing now the world over. People are graduating from trading in ordinary markets and prefer to have organized places where trading in agricultural commodities, which Nigeria is well known for. Exports of seasame seed in Nigeria is over N22bn per annum. So, one can clearly see that if a chunk of this trade flows through exchanges, one will see the level of revenue that will accrue to the exchanges.


Any advice to the general public, particularly potential investors?

My advise to anybody who is interested in the agricultural value chain is to invest in commodity exchange because the future is there, people are looking for organized places to do trading and not local markets. So, this is the position of things that we hope will drive the agricultural value chain in the future.

As a point of emphasis, Gezawa Commodity Market and exchange is established as a hub in the sense that it provides a lot of opportunities for other businesses to coexist with the market.

We have provision for lands for banks to establish branches, because banks are going to be central to our trading system when we start the online trading platform. Banks are going to be in the medium to effect settlement of transactions. We have land for hotels, filling stations, spaces for warehouses, that people can come and acquire land to build warehouses in our place, we have provision for trailer park. People can also come and invest in our commercial trailer park. When the market becomes fully operational, there will be a lot of movements in terms of haulage, trucks will be coming and going out that is why we need provision for trailer park, we also have provision for simple car park where customers who come into the market to trade, participants will require spaces to park their cars. So, we have a commercial car park in view.

We also have provision for way bridges which will be quite useful in terms of commodities that will come into the market. We also have plans for processing facilities, people can come and acquire land to establish agricultural processing facilities, laboratory for testing agricultural produces. So, the investment opportunities in our concept are quite large that investors are most welcome to come and take advantage of this opportunities and we are willing to provide enabling environment, and the processes will be simpler for them to come and participate.


Any plan to replicate the initiative in other parts of the country?

What we have done here is just the first phase of the market. We have an expanse of land covering over 200Ha that we intend to develop the second phase, so, at the moment, our focus is to remain in Gezawa and see to its full development. But, if in the future, opportunities to set up similar projects in other parts of the country arose, we will be ready and willing to take it up.


Plan to commission the market

The commissioning ceremony is coming up very soon, we have now been able to open the market for business, and as soon as we reach some milestones, the commissioning ceremony will also take place in due course.


How many total shops

We have over 400 shops here of various categories, mainly single shops and what we call luxury shops which are shops that have provision for both ground floor and upper floor. These are basically the types of shop we have, they are over 400 in number and people are free to come and buy the shops and we are also willing to accommodate people who are going to rent, so this is the provision we have for the shops.


Capacity of the Warehouses

We have two categories of warehouses, type A is the smaller warehouse which can accommodate about 150 trucks of produce, type B, which is the bigger one, that has the capacity to carry about 400 trucks in all. You can clearly say they are big warehouses, and this is the standing we have established which we intend to replicate in the second phase, people are free to come and take spaces.


Criteria for employment and catchment areas of staff

These are open for competent people to work for us. Competent is the key word, wherever we have gaps and we are able to attract competent people to come and work for us we are open. It’s not an issue of indigene or whatever, all we are interested in is competence and the ability to deliver. Anybody who can deliver and has the competence to do so, will be welcome to work with us.


The name international

By nature and inference it is actually an international market. Wherever you see commodity market and exchange, the word exchange connotes international. By the time we come online, people can participate in our trading activities from any part of the world. It’s not just about Nigeria. Anybody can log on to our website and see our activities and then can participate and give orders for whatever he wants from Nigeria.

One of the core functions of the market is to provide an avenue where farmers can get value for their products, get transparency in the way they sell their products, because in the normal setting, you find out a lot of farmers don’t have access to information about prices, don’t have access to market, they are always exposed to middle men, they don’t give value to what they do. Gezawa is supposed to give them an avenue where they can form cooperatives and be able to channel their produce through their cooperatives to aggregate and then come forward to the market and get value for their products.

This is one of the key functions of the market and the value the market is supposed to add to the economy.

When you talk about the marketing board, this is a marketing board in a more private sense, government is not involved but the avenue is being created for farmers to come forward and get better prices, more transparency in their dealings in selling their commodities.

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