Charles Madouabee writes about why innovation and technology need tools in an effort to eliminate hunger through agriculture.
It is projected that Nigeria will become the third largest population in the world in 2050, according to a report entitled "World Population Prospects: the version of 2017" published by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
Therefore, it is expected that the demand for food in the country will grow along with the forecast, and it is understood that the agricultural sector of the country faces a huge challenge for the production of not only food crops, but also the sources of the needs of proteins and micronutrients in the country.
An assistant in the AGCO qualification for agribusiness (AAQ), John Agbula, reacting to this, said: "The enrollment of the accrued population by 2050 is a big problem, because this demographic upward trend is a threat to food security."
Explaining the problems facing the sector, the co-founder of PS Nutraceuticals Int. Ltd, Samson Ogbole, said that agriculture in Nigeria is still "too managed by people".
According to him, in countries such as the United States of America (USA), less than 10 percent of the country's population is engaged in agriculture, while in Nigeria, more than 70 percent are reported to be involved in agriculture, but hunger seems to persist.
Events in developed countries show that they have moved beyond mechanized agriculture to technological agriculture, Ogbole said, while in Nigeria hoes, sleds and other rudimentary agricultural devices are still used.
The government did import agricultural machinery, but some of these tools are not climatic, Ogbole adds, since the carbon dioxide emissions from these machines have an adverse effect on the environment.
Therefore, more attention should be paid to the importance of adopting innovative and high-tech solutions for agriculture to achieve social development goals (SRS) with zero hunger and without poverty, Agbula suggested.
This is a way to attract young people to agriculture, as now we have remote-controlled farms, automated farms, climate smart farms, orphan farms, urban farms, unmanned aerial vehicles and others, "Ogbole said.
"Clever or carefree farming, whether hydroponics, vertical agriculture, aeroponics or aquaponics, were declared as innovations that could ensure a constant and improved production of food," said Agbula.
The climate of intelligent agriculture is part of the modern approach to environmentally friendly agriculture, attracting the interest of young people, Agbula added.
Agronomist Abimbola Omole, speaking, said: "There was an explosion of interest in this environmentally friendly agricultural system."
She described hydroponics as the practice of growing plants in solutions containing the required special nutrients, in contrast to traditional agriculture, in which land participates.
According to her, Aeroponics is the practice of growing plants with roots completely exposed to air in some air-conditioned boxes.
Advantages of climate smart technological agriculture.
Agbula said that both mechanized and innovative agriculture are interrelated, since their goal is to increase productivity, but one of the last is that it allows producing all seasonal production, since hunger is not seasonal. "
Painless farming, says Ogbole, allows to maximize the planting space, as the crops are planted closer, the use of very few fertilizers (800 g / plot), the lack of weeding or herbicide, the sterilized growing medium, the culture with higher levels of phytochemicals and antioxidants and improved maturity compared to with conventional agriculture.
Plants in the hydroponics environment, Omole adds, grow faster than their soil-cultivating analogs, since nutrients flow directly to the root of the plant without loss of soil, which allows to increase the yield.
In addition, the crop can be grown in areas where agricultural farming is impossible, and water management is simpler, as water is processed and, therefore, sustainable, she said.
Agbula said that this environment is effective in combating land use problems, because it can be practiced in canopies, shops, freight containers and urban centers, and with good farm management it could be collected more on site than in acres in conventional agriculture, Ogbole added.
Omole said: "The facility supports the low use of pesticides, since the environment helps to save pests in contrast to field crops, where pesticides are the first line of defense.
"This is not a laborious process, and one can also create this urban farmless farm near the market, thereby significantly reducing the need for transportation," she added.
The sensors, says Ogbole, are used to monitor the pH, humidity and temperature, among others, all that allow farmers to increase their yield and product quality. Intelligent farming devices IoT not only help in data collection, but also improve advanced methods, therefore, make it cost-effective and reduce losses, Agbula added.
Climate smart economy is one of the most sustainable models of agriculture, as year-round production is guaranteed, and this has been successfully implemented at some sites.
Although vegetables are the main crops grown using a hydroponic system, Omole said, there is a growing demand for its use in the production of yam seeds, which in turn will be used by local farmers to grow tubers.
Smart agriculture is a new approach in Nigeria, because the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), PS Nutraceutical Ltd, BIC Farm Concepts, Fresh Direct Nigeria and Gartner Callaway, to name a few, either accepted or invested heavily in it , said Agbula.
The head of PS Nutraceutical said: "In fact, we grew more than 200 crops, ranging from tomatoes, onions, carrots, rice, ginger, pits and flowers, among others, using countless farming."
This, he said, was successfully done by the firm in Ogun, Lagos, Abia, Kaduna and Oyo, and also in Abuja.
Need for capacity building
Agriculture is a serious business, so the lack of capital is not enough, Ogbole said, as most people go in search of funds and investments without the necessary know-how.
It's easy for interested parties to talk about technology and its application to agriculture, but most of the work goes to its concept, implementation and implementation, Agbula added.
"Unfortunately, we have a generation that wants wealth, not creating value; who wants to earn without training and others who go into agriculture after attending seminars or reading a few things on the Internet, and this causes concern, "Ogbole shrugged.
"As an intending smart farmer, the main task is to first search for knowledge. People should be willing to learn and get hands-on experience, "Ogbole suggested.
We need to be aware of the sector, areas of interests, existing problems, financing agencies and the sustainability of technical farming practices, and all this requires training of specialists, Agbula added.
Therefore, Omole urged relevant stakeholders and government agencies to give high priority to building the capacity of farmers, to increase investment in infrastructure and to improve resource management, as technology can help transform the food sector.
To stimulate the adaptation of technology in agriculture, Agbula called for advocacy.
According to him, the power of social, traditional and print media should be used to convey the message to young people, potential investors and various interested parties.
"The government needs to initiate programs and initiatives for empowerment, which are geared to climate smart farming across all states.
In addition, private sector participation can not be overemphasized in accelerating the adoption of a climate-friendly intellectual farming system, Agbula added. "
Consequently, massive investments in this sector would guarantee food security and help reduce poverty, Omole said.
Population growth represents increased opportunities in agribusiness, as well as the inclusion of technology, youth participation can be ensured.