Corporate Farmers’ International (CFI), in partnership with the Lagos and Kebbi state governments, as well as the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS), has unveiled three new agricultural products and services aimed to further change the narrative of Nigeria’s agriculture sector by closing the major gaps within the area.
The platforms, which include e-Learning Academy, Eko School Agric and Farm Support Service, were birthed to close the gaps in agriculture education, children and teenagers’ involvement in agriculture and creating innovative jobs in agricultural extension services.
Akin Alabi, Co-Founder of CFI, while speaking at the launch, said the academy is 100 percent digital with tutors who will take students and agriculture practitioners through all courses before examinations and award of certificates.
“The academy is also a complete agricultural learning hub for Lagos and Kebbi states’ several agricultural programmes, training across specific value-chain, which Nigerians in the Diaspora will find very useful to learn more about agriculture in their country and aid agricultural investment.
He said the Eko School Agric is a comic book series for children, teenagers and lovers of comic books, in collaboration with the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture.
Alabi noted that the book is designed to instill knowledge in children, catch them young and know where their food comes from.
“The low acceptability of agriculture among the youths must be tackled from the root and to do that, we must create a platform for our children to also see themselves as critical players in the value-chain,” he said.
The Farm Support Service, according to him, is established to add value to Nigeria’s extension service sector by providing a weekly digital service for farmers and agro-starters through some dedicated mobile numbers that are accessible anywhere in Nigeria.
“Based on several challenges faced by farmers from investment to production, we have set aside dedicated farm agents that will provide answers to every question in the agric space, including farm investigation, especially on farm investments and on-site consultation to farmers.
Another Co-Founder, Ade Ajayi, stated the COVID-19 pandemic has opened opportunities for digitalisation in the agric sector, stressing that the launch of the platforms would rebrand agriculture as an attractive and innovative sector in the country.
Ajayi said that the platform would serve as an opportunity to leverage current technologies to educate farmers and agri-preneurs across the value-chain in the agriculture ecosystem.
He said the objective was to provide educative content and information to participants, expose learners to agricultural opportunities, locally and internationally and receive validation from the agricultural learning community.
“Farmers and investors across the sector make mistakes because of the dearth in knowledge in investments and agro-practices,” he added.
Abisola Olusanya, Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, who was represented by Hakeem Adeniji, permanent secretary in the ministry, said the population of Lagos has made it necessary to explore ways of increasing food production and enhancing productivity to attain food sufficiency.
She said the state was open to ideas to help address the challenges of food production and applying technology into the agriculture value chain.
Olusanya, therefore, described the partnership with CFI as strategic, adding that the time had come for tech-savvy farmers in the country to become principal actors in the sector and with the need for food security and large-scale agro production, the platforms would support the Lagos five-year roadmap for the state’s agriculture sector.
Tukur Mohammed, Kebbi State Lagos Liaison Officer, said the state has vast arable land for agriculture and has committed large resources under the administration of Governor Atiku Bagudu to boosting agro-production in the area of rice and tomato.
He said that the partnership was a breath of fresh air as the state has always sorted ways to grow agriculture.
Mohammed said any institution presenting opportunities to help Kebbi improve its agriculture beyond rice was welcomed because the state was known mostly for rice farming, stressing that its activities were beyond that.