Mr. Kashifu Inuwa, Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has said that rejuvenating the agricultural sector by digitising all its processes for smallholder farmers through initiatives developed by the government would not only boost productivity but increase the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $67billion.
This is against the backdrop of indications that the smallholder farmers are producing an estimated 90% of the country’s food and contributing 21% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $477 billion.
Inuwa made this disclosure 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) at the Barcelona Hotel, Abuja.
The Policy Dialogue Session with the theme: “Deepening Partnership for Scale-up of Information & 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.
Inuwa who provided more insight into this disclosure, said that the policy dialogue is a step in the right direction towards actualising the renewed hope agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in diversifying the economy through the digital transformation of critical sectors in the country.
“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is committed to uplifting Nigeria through digital transformation, innovation and economic growth.
“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.
While maintaining that the agricultural sector contributes about 70% to businesses in Africa and contributes about 21% to the country’s GDP, he said that priority in terms of technology penetration should be given to it considering its importance.
Buttressing the importance of technology on agricultural productivity, the NITDA DG added that “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.”
Speaking on NITDA’s commitment to implementing the presidential mandate, Inuwa stated that the agency worked with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture in crafting the National Digital Agricultural Strategy which also birthed the development of the National Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture.
“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.
Mrs. Dede Ekoue, the Country Director of the IFAD Country Office, Abuja, had in her welcome address earlier, 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.
Uzoma 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 of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Food Security, with NITDA is necessary to implement a national digital dialogue strategy to further leverage technology for advancements from the agricultural sector,” he averred.