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Digital agriculture imperative for food security, says Lagos commissioner

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Abisola Olusanya

The Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, on Saturday, described digitization as critical for the country to attain its food security needs.

Olusanya, who said this at the launch of a book entitled: ‘The Rise of Digital Agriculture,’ which held at the Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, added that the book was phenomenal and published at the right time, considering developments in the agricultural space, across the world. 

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According to the commissioner, the sector was one of the most profitable in the country, in addition to being a sector that is most fundamental to the human race globally.

However, it takes time and persistence to reap the benefits from agriculture, and technology has actually shortened the timeline of the cycle between production, profitability and consumption, she explained.

“It is critical that people begin to understand the importance of digitization so that we can begin to have conversations around how we can move from agriculture to agri-business,” she said.

Olusanya also said that there was a need for people to move from the mindset that agriculture is archaic and only meant for illiterates.

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“Agriculture itself is a process-driven system, and this book provides an insight on how we can use technology to enhance these processes, to ensure higher productivity,” she said.

The commissioner said agriculture has the potential to be the biggest contributor to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) if properly harnessed through investments and technologies.

Ibrahim Maigari, managing Director of Livestock 24/7, said the book sought to encourage an enabling discussion around using technology to develop agriculture.

“This will open up the economy to empower people, create jobs for our country and catch up with the rest of the world,” he said and encouraged youths to look into becoming agricultural entrepreneurs if they really want to make good money.

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David Apenda, Head, Agrictech, Sterling Bank, said the bank had created a platform that allowed farmers and agro-processors, especially women and youths, to get instant financing via technology which is called Sterling Women and Youth in Agriculture Finance Programme, where everybody in Nigeria, who is in the agriculture sector could register online to facilitate loans. 

He commended Akin Alabi, author of the ‘Rise of Digital Agriculture,’ saying that his book sought to attract the younger generation, as well as change the narrative of the entire agricultural system through technology.

Akin Alabi the author said: “My journey in the agricultural sector started 20 years ago when I created an online digital blog called Corporate Farmers, a dynamic tool that was used to share several agricultural articles, research works and writes about agricultural innovations from youth and other stakeholders around Nigeria and Africa.”

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He pointed out that in 2020, COVID-19 brought the reality of technology as an inevitable tool in productivity, marketing and distribution of food.

“It taught all farmers and other stakeholders in the industry a huge lesson to do things differently, think differently, work differently and now we have familiarised ourselves to use several technology tools so we can remain in business,” Alabi said.

He said IITA’s integrated digital tools for agricultural transformation in Africa and the African Development Bank’s climate adaptation summit and proposed first digital agriculture financing facility for Africa are indications that, indeed, technological revolutions in agriculture have come to stay.

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