Inspired by the determination to make precision farming more accessible and affordable to farmers anywhere on African soil, a leading agribusiness expert, Azeez Oluwole, has launched Africa’s first agricultural electronic centre in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State.
The launching which was officially performed yesterday, by Governor ‘Seyi Makinde, held at the international headquarters of FarmKonnect Agribusiness Nigeria Plc, at Bashorun, Ibadan, was also aimed at changing the digital-data narrative of Africa’s agricultural system.
While speaking at the occasion, Makinde, who lauded the company for coming up with ideas that can help to eradicate hunger, promised that his administration would ensure the creation of a conducive atmosphere for the private sector to thrive in the state.
The governor noted that FarmKonnect has shown that one can actually live in Nigeria and with a click of a button get already demarcated farmland in other parts of Africa and beyond.
Makinde, represented by the Chief of Staff, Chief Bisi Ilaka, added that farmers have always had challenges with aggregation, storage, and transportation of their goods. He said the ideas brought by FarmKonnect would bridge the gaps, apart from catering for farmers that do not have bank accounts and would also encourage collective farming, instead of the age-long practice of farming in isolation.
Oluwole, the Chief Executive Officer of FarmKonnect Agribusiness Nigeria, while speaking, noted that it was time the country looked towards deliberate and aggressive collaborative investments into food security.
He added that food insecurity would lead to scarcity, scarcity would breed conflict, describing the conflict as the father of war.
Oluwole said: “We may build other sectors as safety nests, but if hunger takes away our security, the safety nest will be plundered.
He said the Agricultural Electronic Centre, was aimed at promoting agriculture in Nigeria and Africa at large, by producing a generation of smart farmers who are data-conscious and can make data-driven decisions in their respective endeavours in the agricultural value chains.
Oluwole disclosed that the two components of the initiative are FarmKonnect Agricultural Electronic extension Service Centre (FAgEX) and FarmKonnect Institute for Data and Agricultural Studies (FIDAS).
He noted that both efforts have the specific goal to provide input services to stakeholders in the agricultural value chains through Information Technology, training, research and business/professional consulting.
According to the CEO, the initiative was an integral part of the company’s mission to glamourize agricultural practices in Africa and contribute to food security and nutrition through the agricultural real estate of modern technologies and methodologies.
He said: “FarmKonnect Agricultural Electronic Extension Service Centre (FAgEX) is established with the intent to accelerate controlled environment farming practices in Africa. Leveraging modern technologies such as satellite imagery, drones, electro-optic systems, global positioning system, geographic information system, on-site sensors, etc.”
“FAgEX will enable us to monitor and receive live feeds from all our farms and greenhouses anywhere in Africa. With this initiative, we can also control certain operations such as irrigation and humidification remotely. This is first of its kind on African soil.”
While speaking on the institute for data and agribusiness studies, Oluwole, a retired Naval Commander said: “Apart from setting up new systems or creating enabling environments for digital agriculture in Africa, there is also a need to improve human capacity by increasing digital-data learning of farmers in the continent.”
“Hence, FIDAS is established primarily to increase knowledge and skills acquisition of stakeholders in the demand and supply sides as well as the business, dimensions of the agricultural value chain. This initiative will help businesses, individuals and government to capture inherent values in data and insights towards tailored value delivery in the demand and supply sides of the agricultural value chain.”
“It will also raise more business-oriented professional farmers through classrooms and field exposure to modern agribusiness practices.”
“The vision of FIDAS is to enhance the use of smart processes, people and technologies for data and insights generation that help stakeholders make an informed decision towards responsible production and achieving food security in Africa by 2030 and beyond, while the mission is to contribute to the quality and data-driven workforce that can help Africa to transition into a new path in the digital data economy.”
“It aims to enhance quality research in the agriculture industry as well as help young entrepreneurs, emerging business leaders and professionals to understand inherent values of big data and data analytics in the industry.”
“Recently, the oil and energy companies that once dominated the list of the top six most valuable firms in the world are already being replaced by firms providing digital data products and services such Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, LinkedIn etc.”
“The experts now claim that since data is a growing influence in the new economy, there might be a need for a new gross data product to capture the measure of wealth and power of nations.”
“The project aims to promote the practice of precision agriculture and Climate-smart farming which is in line with the company’s mission to drive food security and nutrition through the real estate of modern technologies and methodologies.”
“FAgEX will create about 700 jobs in Nigeria alone. Raising youngsters to become agricultural giants will be impossible without having institutes that instil character alongside knowledge and experience as well as business mindedness in youths venturing into the sector,” Oluwole said.
The ceremony was witnessed by dignitaries, including the Commissioner for Agriculture and Food Security in Ekiti State, Dr Olabode Adetoyi, and his counterpart in Osun State, Mr Adedayo Adewole; Head of Sub-Saharan Agribusiness in Africa for International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr Debo Akande, who is the Director-General, Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA); South West Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Marcus Ogunbiyi.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), commercial banks, and the international community were also represented by powerful delegations at the ceremony, which showcased how to address food insecurity in the country, by moving into the next phase of modern-day agriculture, which is the practice of precision agriculture and climate-smart farming towards driving food security and nutrition through the real estate of modern technologies and methodologies to eradicate hunger.