Walking through the market in my beautiful AGRO-MART T Shirt and doing my duty in distributing fliers to advertise the opening of AGRO-MART, I see this group of boys pointing my way and I say to myself ‘what have I done this time around?’ They signal for me to come their way and on approaching them, I hear one of them recount his experience at the AGRO-MART to his friends. ‘Great customer service, and the place is so clean you are sure the food is clean. These people really make shopping easy and have come to help the poor with their affordable prices’. And I smile at my colleague and say ‘kudos’.
It’s been exactly three weeks since AGRO-HUB brought together over 100 persons to witness as they open the doors to a new era of shopping in the agricultural market. Sleepless nights of preparation by the team yielded a very successful grand opening. Little did they envisage that the work was yet to begin. With food crops beautifully displayed on the shelves and fresh food being sold in a clean and well ventilated environment like never before seen in Cameroon’s agricultural markets, AGRO-MART experiences an inflow of over 30persons daily some just to look at the place with a greater majority buying at least an item. AGRO-MART makes shopping for those with very busy schedules much easier as they can walk in, find everything they need in one place and be done with shopping in a couple of minutes. Most praise the idea yet some fear coming into the structure saying it looks luxurious and will certainly be expensive.
Over these weeks, while the team has received extolment from its customers for the work well done, it has faced a number of challenges. Our biggest competitor remains the local market whose price varies with the time of the day. In the morning hours, prices are a little higher because people rush into the market to buy. By midday, the number of people reduces so the prices drop and by evening fewer people go to the market and the prices drop further more. This makes it difficult for the mart to set standard prices as people always compare them with those in the market.
Delivery also is another major setback. The lack of a transport vehicle makes transportation of produce a strenuous act. However, we have experienced better sales on days we happen to do deliveries our selves. This therefore means that for AGRO-MART to fully satisfy its customers needs and stay in business, there is a need for a transport vehicle.
The parameters within the agricultural market are too many and understanding the dynamics remains a challenge for AGRO-MART. Our major setback remains a transport vehicle which could go a long way to help us source food from the hinter lands and supply to the consumer population.
The road so far hasn’t been an easy but I know we are up to task. AGRO-MART hopes to setup franchises across the country in an effort to restructure the food chain and make food equally accessible to all. AGRO-MART is only 3 weeks old and much is still to be done in terms of publicity as many still don’t know about the mart.
As a team, we understand the work is still to begin so we are ready to do everything possible to satisfy both our farmers and consumers. With the coming of AGRO-MART, Cameroon’s agricultural market will never be the same again.