Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday said that the government was prioritizing innovation and technology investments in agriculture so as to transform the sector by attracting young people and also scale up productivity.
Prof. Osinbajo stated this in his remarks at the 2021 High-Level Virtual Dialogue on Feeding Africa.
He also said that an indigenous technology company has developed a microchip for tracking the cattle.
He listed the Economic Sustainability Plan, National Livestock Transformation Plan and the Green Imperative Project as some of the programmes of the Federal Government to ensure agricultural transformation.
According to him, “at the heart of Nigeria’s post COVID-19 recovery plan, or what we describe as our Economic Sustainability Plan is an Agriculture for Food and Jobs Plan (AFJP) where we seek to leverage suitable technologies to build a resilient food system for Nigeria especially in the light of the economic, health and food supply chain devastations caused by the pandemic. Implementation is well underway and we have quite a few impressive results already.”
He disclosed that during the COVID lockdowns, the federal government trained and deployed over 34,000 young graduates all over the country, covering over 8,000 local government wards in 774 Local Government Areas.
Each of the young men and women, he said, had a locally developed app on smart phones and electronic tablets to digitally register farmers and map out their farm GIS coordinates.
He said, ”So, we have registered and mapped about 6 million small-holder farmers to their farmlands and we are also currently collecting 200,000 composite soil samples from these farms to be analyzed in 22 local soil laboratories to guide local fertilizer blending.”
The VP said on the back of the farmer-farm database which the government developed, they are creating a digital Agriculture Exchange Programme (AgExchange), working with the Alliance Rabobank and MasterCard in collaboration with some local FinTech companies and are run by young Nigerians.
”The AgExchange will be an ecosystem or one-stop-shop for providing a range of services and products to small-holder farmers such as real-time e-subsidies, credit-connect by providing credit score of farmers on the platform and linking them to financiers, insurance services, market place services for connecting producers, aggregators and off-takers based on competitive market prices.
“Input suppliers, weather, pests, and disease indexing services will be provided on the exchange as well. The budget for the Agriculture for Food and Jobs Plan AFJP is $1.5billion.”
On the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP), Osinbajo noted that the focus is on transiting gradually from nomadic system of cattle production to the more sedentary method of ranching.
This, he said, will involve training pastoralists in new ways of producing and rearing cattle sustainably to address the challenges of resource-based violent conflicts between crop farmers and cattle herders, and the generally low milk and beef productivity of indigenous cattle breeds.
Osinbajo explained that an indigenous technology company has developed a microchip for tracking the cattle and is working on a pilot project with one of the development partners – the Netherlands government.
”All the energy on the ranches will be from biogas from cattle dung and solar power. The ranch will be an integration of crops, pasture, and trees. The crops for the need of the pastoral household, the trees to fight desertification and enhance carbon sequestration rather than emission.
“Funding for this is from budgets of the Federal and State governments and bilateral support from development partners such as the Netherlands. The initial sum is in the order of 280 million USD.”