Inspired by the success stories emanating from the implementation of the National Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture (NAVSA) and its prospect to attract the youths to embrace agriculture, leveraging digital technologies, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) at the weekend concluded the five days intensive training which culminated into the adoption of another 75 smart farmers into the NAVSA platform at the University of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
The programme, which one of the goal is to build a sustainable digital platform that provides varieties of information for more than half of the agriculture ecosystem players in Nigeria in order to enable a highly-productive agribusiness economy, has since adopted almost 992 smart farmers and created thousands of direct and indirect jobs to Nigerians.
At a brief closing ceremony and presentation of digital tools and seed funding to the beneficiaries the NITDA Director General, Kashifu Inuwa, CCIE, who was represented by the team lead and Assistant Director, Digital Economy Development Department, Dr Ayodele Bakare, reiterated that the programme is designed to help the farmers raise their efficiency, effectiveness, and profitability of their farm businesses through the adoption of digital technologies.
Giving the overview of the programmes, he disclosed that the programme was designed in two folds; to build the digital skill and literacy skills of the beneficiaries and to practically demonstrate to them how feasible it is to run a smart farm.
He said that the programme was initiated by NITDA to demonstrate that IT is an enabler of all other sectors of the economy, and if properly deployed and adopted by farmers, it would aid food production and security in the country, adding that the essence of the training is for the beneficiaries to be able to manage their smart farms and become self-reliance and self-employed.
While advising the beneficiaries to practice what they have learnt throughout the period of the training and build on it, he assured them that NITDA would continue to provide the necessary support should the need arises.
He said, “What we have done here is to wet your appetite and inspire you to optimize it beyond what NITDA has done for you. We expect you to maximize your business models by pulling resources together.
Dr Bakare however called on the management to help the beneficiaries in monitoring and supervising the farms in order to ensure it is self-sustaining.
“We sincerely thank the Vice Chancellor, the Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and the entire staff for unfettered support to make this programme a reality and we believe that it will spur you to expand the scope far above what NITDA has donated,” he said.
The Vice-Chancellor, Prof Kayode Adebowale who was represented by Pro. Malachy Akporoga of the Soil Science Department said, “the replica of what NITDA has done for the beneficiaries is to light their candles which he believes they would also light other people’s candles with it.”
“Most of you would leave this school and go out there to replicate what NITDA has done for you. NITDA cannot train all of you but they have found you worthy of the programme and I believe you also help them to train more people when you start others will follow,” he added.
He informed that designing another approach to farming like NITDA has done would translate to food sufficiency as food is the most important need of man, adding that adoption of digital technologies in Agriculture has justified that hoe and cutlass are not the ends in Agric business but a means to an end.
He further enjoined the beneficiaries to start farming now because of the situation the world has found itself, noting that anything planted now adds value to well-being. “Imagine the price of flour today because Ukraine is in a war situation, I call on you to go out there and become the Ukraine of Nigeria,” he admonished.
The Dean, the Faculty of Agriculture, Prof. Stella Odebowale, in her vote of thanks expressed her appreciation to the Minister, Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami and the NITDA Director General, Kashifu Inuwa, for their foresight to inject digital technologies in farm practice saying that it would make agriculture attractive to the youths.
She assured that all the facilities would be used for the purpose they are donated for. We assure you that we would ensure the sustainability of this programme and monitor the devices given to our students to see that they were utilized for the purpose they were given.
Earlier, an Agriculture Entrepreneur, Mr Akin Alabi, who was also one of the resource persons, noted that NAVSA programme would surely add value to agriculture businesses in Nigeria. “NITDA has impacted the prerequisite knowledge of the beneficiaries to ensure the project does not fail and with this, we can take digital agriculture to the next level.”
The 75 beneficiaries, who were drawn from different departments of the Faculty of Agriculture and Computer Science, were full of praise for NITDA saying that the programme has broadened their horizon to think beyond seeing farming as a laborious enterprise.
Deborah Onuchi, one of the beneficiaries, expressed delight that with the adoption of digital technologies, farming practice has become seamless and enterprising with various opportunities because of the value chain inherent in it.
She promised that with the knowledge NITDA has impacted her, she has seen agriculture as a business and not as a means to provide sustenance for oneself.
Meanwhile, during the NITDA team’s visit to the Vice Chancellor, Prof Adebowale, he commended NITDA for introducing the new trend in agricultural practices to the youths. He maintained that if youths see that adopting smart technologies in agriculture makes it easier, they would surely adopt it.
“I appreciate the fact that the beneficiaries of this programme are youths who are technologically savvy, it acceptability is assured unlike introducing it to the old one who would not accept it because of old farming traditions. They are like dry fish that cannot be straightened,” he concluded.
Among the facilities NITDA put in place for the successful implementation of the programme at the institution are; the provision of connectivity to the beneficiaries, access to the 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, that is, smart irrigation and brooding system, a borehole University satellite farm in Ile-Ogbo, installation of smart irrigation system by NITDA, a 500-litre water tank, one Horse Power surface water pump, and solar inverter installed for the utilisation of the smart irrigation farm system.