The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) today commenced the training of the 75 farmers to be absorbed into the National Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture (NAVSA) platform.
The five-day training, holding at the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State, is aimed at improving the production, productivity and income of every NITDA-adopted farmer on the NAVSA platform.
In his opening remarks, the director-general of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, – represented by the team lead and assistant director, digital economy development, Dr. Ayodele Bakare – disclosed that the project was designed to help the farmers raise their efficiency, effectiveness and profitability of their farm businesses through the adoption of digital technology.
He stated that the adoption of technology in agricultural practices has brought about food sustainability, especially in developed countries. For Nigeria to achieve the same feat, he said, it must adopt technologies across her agriculture value chain.
“For us to be successful,” he began, “this programme is going to be implemented in two folds. One, we are going to be providing you with training on the application of digital technologies in the enablement of the value chain in agriculture. Two, we are going to be implementing a smart farm which includes smart breeding, smart irrigation, use of drones for aerial mapping and the provision of a digital platform to effectively manage the smart farm.”
The NITDA boss added that the essence of the training is for the beneficiaries to manage their smart farms and become self-reliant and self-employed.
While advising the beneficiaries to take the training seriously because “NITDA and the university have put in tremendous efforts into the project,” he called on the institution to consider expanding the scope beyond what NITDA created and ensure its sustainability, so [that] it can continue to achieve its goals and objectives.
The vice chancellor of the university, Prof. Kayode Adebowale – represented by Prof. Oladepo Okhare – expressed delight at the project and commended NITDA for finding the university worthy of the programme.
He maintained that the world has become a global village where the adoption of information technology in agricultural practices would not only guarantee access to information but increase the potential of farmers.
“Smart farming is proliferating globally and, in Nigeria, we are about to start. The potentials are here and I would have loved to see more students here than we have seen today. After this programme, there is a need to extend it to other departments like engineering. There is a need for integration, optimisation and synthesis of knowledge.”
While admitting that the new curriculum for university education should include entrepreneurial contexts, Adebowale commended NITDA for being proactive by collaborating with tertiary institutions in building the human capacity and promoting entrepreneurial skills of the students.
“We need to have a lot of collaboration as we did in the past – either from your side or ours. We are sometimes stagnant and I think the bond can still be strengthened. Our students are ready to work and it is about the future,” he alluded.
Earlier, the representative of the dean of the faculty of agriculture, Prof. Oladeji Oyinlola, applauded the position of NITDA to collaborate with the university and described it as a welcome development. “Collaboration has been the position of the university since its inception,” he inputted “and in this regard, it is so novel because developed countries of the world now employ the use of information technology to enhance food security,” he added.
“NITDA is, therefore, providing a real privilege for the university on a platter of gold. In its quest to intervene in the agricultural development of the nation, NITDA recently introduced NAVSA. This digital project is conceived to facilitate the development of agricultural enterprises.”
While accepting that the programme would go a long way in exposing the students to modern trends in agricultural practices, especially in the use of information technology for agriculture, Oyinlola also noted that the programme would avail beneficiaries smart devices, seed funding, capacity building in four different enterprises, among others.
He listed other components of the programme; connectivity to the beneficiaries, access to NAVSA platform facilitation, financial inclusion through the digital wallets on the NAVSA platform, provision of insurance and e-extension services, provision of smart demo farm (smart irrigation and brooding system), a borehole that has already been donated for the project at the university satellite farm in Ile-Ogbo, installation of a smart irrigation system by NITDA, a 500-litre water tank, one horse power (1HP) surface water pump and solar inverter installed to utilise the small irrigation system.
He appreciated the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami and the NITDA’s director-general, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, for approving the school as beneficiary of the programme.