Digitising all processes for smallholder farmers in Nigeria through initiatives developed by the Government would not only boost productivity but increase the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $67 billion.
Smallholder farmers are producing an estimated 90% of the country’s food and contributing 21% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $477 billion.
The Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa made this known at the Policy Dialogue session in collaboration with the Office of the Presidency, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Food Security and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
The Policy Dialogue Session which with the theme: “Deepening Partnership for Scale-up of Information and Communications Technology for Development (ICT4D) for Smallholder Farmers in Nigeria is aimed at fostering partnership among the relevant players in the ecosystem to scale solutions for farmers in enhancing productivity.
“To achieve this, the President has mandated our Ministry, the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy to accelerate the Nigerian economic diversification by enhancing productivity in critical sectors through technological innovation”, he stated.
According to him, priority in terms of technology penetration should be given to it considering its importance.
He added: “Nigeria in terms of land size is almost 22 times larger than the Netherlands but in terms of production, Netherlands is the second largest agricultural producer in the world because of its use of technology”.
“We have implemented that initiative in six states in collaboration with different institutions, including academia, fintech and telco companies and we have established a platform that provides a marketplace for the participants as well as to connect them with financial institutions”, he added.
He further noted that a wallet is provided on the platform to ensure that funds are controlled and properly utilised for the purpose and beneficiaries it is meant for.
“I believe that with this kind of partnership, we can scale up that platform and make agri-business a fancy business for our youth to be part of it”, he concluded.
Country Director of the IFAD Country Office, Mrs. Dede Ekoue thanked the NITDA DG for his participation in the steadfast commitment to putting NITDA’s high-quality technical expertise to the service of enhanced digital solutions for farmers.
She said that IFAD is committed to promoting the empowerment of smallholder farmers globally and in Nigeria through several solutions and is scaling up its support in digital solutions.
“We invite all stakeholders from the public sector, the private sector, civil society, farmer organizations, and development partners, to discuss the best approaches to strengthen our partnership and our digital solution. We are confident that together we can do more, we can do better, and we can do faster to increase access of smallholder farmers to digital solutions”, she noted.
Special Senior Assistant to the President on Agribusiness and Productivity Enhancement, Dr. Kingsley Uzoma commended the DG NITDA for his active participation with the Office of the President in different policy developments.
He said that sustained efforts at digital literacy in partnership with key agencies like NITDA as well as the private sector will be critical in ensuring greater technology absorption by smallholder farmers which can translate to improved productivity, extensive technical upscaling, promoting best practices and increased trade.
He also expressed the need for a centrally coordinated agricultural data hub that would aggregate and provide insights on open and targeted data that is relevant for planning, policy direction and essential decision-making.
“Increased collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Food Security, and NITDA is necessary to implement a national digital dialogue strategy to further leverage technology for advancements from the agricultural sector”, he said.