The Federal Government said it has distributed smart agricultural inputs through the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to beneficiaries of the National Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture (NAVSA) five-day empowerment programme which took place at Al-Qalam University Katsina, Katsina State.
The NAVSA programme is designed to accelerate massive job creation, economic diversification and growth, facilitate the integration of digital technologies and innovations in the agriculture processes and practices to significantly increase productivity, improve food security, ensure an eco-friendly agricultural practice, attract potential talents and youths into agriculture professions to maximise outcomes.
In this edition, the Federal Government has improved green energy-powered smart brooding to enhance the survival rate of broilers, a smart irrigation system to support a year-long production and a soil nutrient monitoring system to support information-driven farming on a demo land.
This is in addition to other benefits such as a smart device, N100,000 seed fund, agricultural technology training/capacity-building, connectivity (Internet and CUG), NAVSA platform, financial inclusion through digital wallets, e-extension and insurance services, continuous reinvestment model opportunities and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)/drones for smart farms.
Speaking during the closing ceremony at the weekend, the director general, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, who was represented by the acting director, digital economy development, Engr. Salisu Kaka stated that: “Agriculture remains one of the critical sectors of Nigeria’s economy. This is evident in the policies of the current administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR. Every economic, developmental and social policy gives agriculture priority.”
Abdullahi said the NAVSA empowerment will enhance the agriculture value chain, create new value and opportunities through new business models and services and, ultimately, enable the creation of millions of jobs while taking the people out of poverty and enabling economic growth and diversification.
“With our potential in arable land size and youthful population, modernising the agricultural sector can change the narrative and multiply the contribution of the sector to the national GDP in many folds. Unfortunately, the sector is the least digitised in the country. It has been proved that any digitised business has the potential to grow exponentially.
“We hold a social contract to ensure IT drives every aspect of life and contributes to every community and national development as a whole. In line with our mandates, we carry out digital technology-driven interventions in any industry and sector of the economy across the country.
“This is evident in all digitalised economic sectors of the world such as the bank, financial services, media, entertainment, among others. Undoubtedly, digitalisation of the economic sectors has proved to be the game-changer for economic transformation across the globe.
“It is believed that if the agriculture sector is properly managed and enhanced, it would be a genuine means of eradicating poverty, improving people’s standard of living, diversifying the economy and creating prosperity for Nigerians.
“We all have it as a duty to ensure agriculture is practised as a business and not a way of life as usual. There is a need to modernise agricultural practices in the country. Given this conviction and in line with its mandates of universal IT access and integration into every sector of the economy, NITDA has designed a digital technology and ecosystem-driven innovation to address most of our challenges in the agriculture sector.
“The narrative is being changed through NAVSA and other digital agricultural initiatives to support the digitisation of the agricultural sector to address our challenges, exploit the opportunities and accelerate economic growth, in line with the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) and the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy,” Abdullahi noted.
He added that NESP takes agriculture as a mainstay for economic recovery, diversification and job creation. The plan proposed a mass agriculture programme to bring 20,000 to 100,000 hectares of new farmland under cultivation in every state of the federation.
According to Abdullahi, the aim is to create 5 million job opportunities, directly and indirectly spanning the entire agricultural value chain, from ‘farm to table’. This can only be achieved by incentivising and engaging millions of Nigerians in farming and agro-processing.
“We have chosen to work with AUK in this edition of NAVSA because we are convinced that, as a community-owned institution, it possesses the unique advantage of having a highly sustainable business model that can support the sustainability framework of NAVSA.
“We will be at the advantage of having the opportunity to prove that community-based innovations are better ways of proffering solutions to our socio-economic challenges.
“With the NAVSA, we also believe that unemployment, insecurity and the [challenges which come with] an underdeveloped [Nigerian] economy can be addressed through agriculture,” he added.