ABUJA- The National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA), has trained and empowered 140 farmers in Ekiti State under its National Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture (NAVSA) empowerment programme.
Speaking at the closing ceremony in Ekiti State at the weekend, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, Director General of NITDA, underscored the need for government to leverage on digital technologies and innovations to attract youth into agriculture.
According to him, “We believe leveraging digital technologies and innovations will attract youthful population into agriculture, create new digital business models across the agriculture value chain, enable millions of jobs, increase productivity and contribution of the agriculture to GDP thereby making Nigeria a leading nation in food security and exporter of standard agricultural produce to the rest of the world”.
He recalled that the programme was first launched in Jigawa state earlier this year, adding that the project was initiated to systematically adopt farmers across the 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the country in order to equip them with necessary digital skills that will make Nigeria one of the leading nations for smart agriculture.
“This initiative is geared towards supporting Federal Government’s digital economy agenda in order to bring into reality the economic diversification of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR and ensure attainment of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 of ending hunger and achieving food security by 2030.
“AgricTech is revolutionising agriculture from promoting indoor vertical farming in the urban areas which use up to 70per cent less water than traditional farms to farm automation that automates crop or livestock production cycle using Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, autonomous tractors, drones and robotics innovation etc. to livestock farming technology that makes tracking and managing livestock data-driven and much easier to modern greenhouses that are technology and data-driven,” he explained.
Abdullahi revealed that harnessing these potentials through AgricTech to create jobs could therefore be a game-changer for the agricultural sector.
“With NAVSA, what we have done is to rethink agriculture differently, by introducing digital technologies and innovations in a strategic manner that woos and connects ecosystem players to make the journey of agriculture business seamless, productive, efficient and rewarding.
“The target of the programme is to adopt farmers in all 36 States and 774 LGAs in the country, support and equip them with skills and resources that will make Nigeria one of the leading nations in food sufficiency, security and exportation,” he added.
He further revealed that the empowerment programme will provide smart device (Tablet); seed fund of N100,000 for enterprise inputs; digital agripreneurship training & skill acquisition; connectivity which includes one-year Internet access & closed user group (CUG) Calls for adopted farmers; NAVSA Platform (Mobile App) among others.
Also speaking, Dr Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, said the requirements to succeed in the Fourth Industrial Revolution necessitate digitalisation to be at the core of any nation’s developmental policy and strategy.
Pantami said digitisation has a proven impact on economy and society by reducing unemployment, improving quality of life, and boosting access to knowledge.
He added that it is transforming the world in almost every aspect of life during the last few decades.
Pantami asserted that the potential benefits of digitising the agro-food sector are convincing but it would require major transformation of farming systems, rural economies, communities and natural resource management.
“This is a challenge which requires a systematic, technology-driven and holistic approach to achieving the full potential and benefits,” he said.