‘Data-driven inclusion of small-scale farmers can boost food security’
Experts have said data utilisation to include small-holder farmers could boost means of livelihood of farmers and change the tide of uncanny relationship between agriculture in Nigeria and poverty.
The executive summary of the 2019 Poverty and Inequality in Nigeria report released by the National Bureau of Statistics indicated that over 70 million poor people are extremely poor in households that depended on agriculture alone for their income.
Coming at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has clearly shown the level of inequality that exists within the Nigerian society, this document brought with it the proof of the many issues that have earned Nigeria the sorry title of poverty capital of the world.
Kola Masha, an entrepreneur, said, “Low economies of scale resulting from many different factors such as poor access to finance, land issues, lack of extension services and more remain the reason Nigeria’s smallholder farmers experience low levels of productivity, as low as 20 per cent yield, which continues to threaten the country’s food security.
A 2017 survey of the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) showed that more than 80 per cent of farmers in Nigeria are smallholders and they still account for more than 90% of the agricultural outputs of the nation, yet they are less empowered, he added.
He explained that the coronavirus pandemic border closures and restricted movements have hugely exposed our already weak food security levels, leading to price hikes in the market and a strain on consumers, thus showing why there is an urgent need to empower more smallholder farmers.
Uka Eje of Thrive Agric shared a similar view, saying “getting smallholder farmers the access they need to resources, which are crucial to their work and the growth of the agricultural sector,” is essential.
Likewise, Ndidi Nwuneli, Managing Partner at Sahel Consulting and Debisi Araba, who is African Region Director, International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CAIT) and an environmental policy expert, supported the idea of empowering the small-holder farmers.
As Nwuneli said, “We need to know who needs what, where they are, what they need most, how that impacts the sector, the nation and much more. The reason this is extremely important can be seen in how fundamental and foundational it is, especially for resource allocation.”
Araba opined that a lack of focus on exact goals we want to achieve might even be a bigger issue than the lack of access that exists, and might be making collaborative efforts with local and international partners less effective.
The said exploring agritech templates has not only provided a means for more people to invest in smallholder farmers, and support their growth, it has also provided a framework for measuring productivity levels and the key levers leading to proportional development.