NITDA Director-General Affirms Commitment to Sustainable Solutions for Smallholder Farmers

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To promote the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for Agricultural Sector development (ICT4D) and foster equal access to digital technologies, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE, the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has reaffirmed the agency’s dedication to delivering sustainable solutions for smallholder farmers in the country.

In a meeting with Mrs. Dede Ekoue, the Country Director of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Inuwa emphasized NITDA’s ongoing efforts in implementing various initiatives aimed at supporting smallholder farmers and boosting productivity within the agricultural sector.

“It is part of our mandate to improve National Food Security through Information Technology (I.T) because globally today, I.T is regarded as one of, if not the best tool(s) when it comes to enhancing productivity in Agriculture, as it is evident, how Smart Agriculture is really increasing food production around the world”.

“We strongly believe that if we in Nigeria embrace this technology, it can be a game changer in the sector”, he said.

In addition to employing ICT to enhance food productivity for subsistence farmers, the Director-General (DG) was firm in expressing that it would entice the younger generation to embrace farming as a business. He highlighted that this approach could help dispel the misconception that ‘farming is an activity exclusively for individuals in suburbs or villages.’

“With technology, you can have a farm at the backyard of your house in the city, you can even explore vertical farming, in developed countries, some do theirs on the rooftop or indoors”.

“So, the technology is available and with the strong belief in our ingenuities, we can do something similar if not better” Inuwa stated.

During the briefing on NITDA’s collaborations and initiatives in the sector, Inuwa recounted that the Agency had established a partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture. This collaboration commenced with the formulation of the “Smart Agric Strategy,” which was followed by various initiatives such as NAVSA, among others.

Inuwa said, “we also collaborate with private sectors, multinational companies and high institutions like Universities, where we leverage on their research centres to create clusters and the ecosystem as well, as we always urge them to come for proof of concept on different technologies”.

“Suffice it to say that we strongly believe in collaboration because we know that the success of digital transformation does not rest on the individual but the collective approach of the ecosystem, and that explains why we always insist on carrying everyone along with us”, the Director-General avowed, he added.

Regarding IFAD’s request for a partnership with the Agency in its upcoming policy dialogue and the exploration of potential collaboration channels/areas, the NITDA Boss expressed gratitude for the friendly gesture extended to the organization. He affirmed the Agency’s preparedness to engage in this collaboration, emphasizing that it is NITDA’s inherent culture to partner with individuals, groups, or entities presenting viable propositions aimed at enhancing value for Nigeria and its citizens.

“It is not only about the policy dialogue, when you are done with that, like the last one we were part of, don’t forget to reach out to us during your capacity building plans because we can benefit from that as well, especially to update the knowledge of our teammates”

“The goal is to expand our horizons and we are already working with Abuja Technology Village to build all these technologies on the farmland we secured, so, this visit will definitely help us know how to go about that”, Inuwa explained.

He assured the IFAD team of NITDA’s commitment to enhancing the partnership between the two organizations and expressed openness to collaborating with additional bodies they might bring into the fold.

Mrs. Dede Ekoue, the Country Director of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), leading the delegation, conveyed to NITDA’s Management team that the purpose of the visit was to reinforce the existing partnership and express gratitude to the Agency for its consistent support, particularly during the Multi-stakeholder Dialogue on ICT4D for smallholder farmers held in May 2023.

Mrs. Ekoue further elaborated that the Dialogue facilitated various activities for the team, including capacity building and exchange visits, among others.

“Now, we are going to have another policy dialogue to strengthen collaborations among all the institutions involved in extending all the digital solutions to smallholder farmers”.

“It is a very important meeting that demonstrates once again the leadership of NITDA in scaling up ICT4D and we are very pleased with to be having this discussion because it will aid us to straighten out some pillars and strategies for the benefit of smallholder farmers in Nigeria”, She said.

She expressed appreciation for the assurances from NITDA’s DG regarding IFAD’s collaboration requests. She noted that these assurances would be instrumental in leveraging a community of actors, emphasizing that NITDA is not only endorsing the initiative but will also mobilize the support of other crucial stakeholders. This collective effort, she noted, would ultimately facilitate widespread access to digital solutions for smallholder farmers.

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