CropIT Nigeria Limited (CropIT) in partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) have concluded plans to launch a robust digital platform that will impact on more than five million farmers and over 100,000 Agricultural Extension Officers.
The initiative, which is grounded in the agricultural firm’s innovation partnership approach, would support the expansion of high-impact and digitally-enabled services to farmers and extension officers across Nigeria over the next three years.
“CropIT is an agriculture specialist company and a developer that provides ﬁnancing, management, advisory and services to producers, farmers and investors in the agricultural sector, within Nigeria and overseas.
“ Its mission is to employ technical know-how to increase smallholder income and productivity by 50 percent reaching at least 40 percent women across Nigeria.
“It was created with the vision to transform Africa’s agriculture by deploying a comprehensive and innovative approach and solutions with strong international backing.
“The digital platform, which has leading organisations including MTN and 9mobile as strategic partners, will create a knowledge based farmer society and a well-structured extension officers network.
“For the farmer, the platform will offer access to reliable and affordable agricultural information, certification of extension officers.
“Development of agriculture protocols, e-advisory, and transactional services across major value chains including rice, cassava, soybeans, cowpea, maize, sorghum, cashew, livestock and fish through their mobile phones.
“These services are to be delivered through onsite extension workers and mobile devices using toll free calls and messages as well as physical and digital call centers as service medium to provide wide coverage over the dispersed farming settlements with limited rural infrastructure, ” the statement said.
It quoted CropIT’s Chairman, Alhaji Nasir Ado-Bayero, as saying Nigerian agriculture has potential although ” no one can eat potential.”
The statement also quoted Ado-Bayero as saying that Nigeria must articulate a clear vision to make itself an agriculturally industrialised and diversified economy as well as to create wealth, jobs and markets for farmers.
“Agriculture and our small farmers in particular must become the engine for growth. Africa and Nigeria in particular can feed the world.
“To do so we must make a fundamental paradigm shift: Agriculture should be seen as a business and not a development programme.
“It must be structured, developed and financed as a business for us to fully unlock its potential.
” Gains will not come easy, but as we do the right things, we will succeed,” he said.
He added that the digital era offers many new innovations and breakthrough opportunities.
“ This innovative effort will enable the African continent to get ahead of the curve, and more efficiently and sustainably unlock the full potential of its smallholder farmers and agribusiness sector.
“Going forward, the benefits of agricultural digitalisation will require governments to do more to encourage more private sector investment across the value chain.
“In areas as diverse as production, post-harvest handling, processing, access to information, market, finance and effective supply chain because countries that have adopted such strategies are already reaping the benefits.
“Nigeria is just starting. Countries like Rwanda whose government since 2000 has embraced an ambitious digital agenda are reaping now.
“To achieve a full digital economy by 2020, agricultural digitalisation promises to bring nothing short of a total economic transformation to the country.
“Nigeria is the largest country in Africa, and until recently has an annual food import bill in the region of about $20 billion, yet more than 80 percent of farmers who are the main producers of over 90 percent of domestic output are smallholder farmers.
“ Sadly, these farmers are poor due to a myriad of problems including and not limited to low use of mechanisation, poor agricultural extension systems and delivery.
“Lack of good agriculture practice, inadequate market information, lack of access to credit and quality inputs such as fertiliser and seed.
“It is to be noted that Africa has one of the lowest agricultural yields in the world.
“According to the World Bank estimates, the continent is likely to double in population to hold an estimated 2.5 billion of the world’s nearly 10 billion people by 2050.
(Edited by Adeboye Ajayi/Mufutau Ojo)