NITDA Highlights Transformative Potential of AI, IoT, and Blockchain in Boosting Nigeria’s Agricultural Sector

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Representative of the DG NITDA flanked by the National Coordinator Office for Nigeria Digital Innovation Ms Victoria Fabunmi and the AGROVESTO team.

The Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa, has underscored the transformative potential of advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and blockchain in addressing the challenges faced by Nigeria’s farmers. Represented by Engr. Salisu Kaka, Director of the Digital Economy Department, Inuwa delivered this message during the launch of the Survey on the Digitisation of Supply-Chain in Small-Scale Nigerian Farms Project.

The event, held in Abuja, was organized by AGROVESTO, an agritech startup and beneficiary of the iHatch Incubation Programme Cohort 2, in conjunction with NITDA, the Office for Nigeria Digital Innovation (ONDI), and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (FMAFS) as a partner. The project’s aim is to empower smallholder farmers in Nigeria, increasing their income and expanding their market opportunities, thereby creating wealth and prosperity through agriculture.

Inuwa highlighted that agriculture employs a significant number of Nigerians and contributed 25.18% to Nigeria’s GDP in 2023, with crop production taking the largest share. He emphasized that digitizing the supply chain for small-scale farms offers a transformative solution to the challenges of food security in the country. Inuwa explained that small-scale farmers are the backbone of crop production in Nigeria but face numerous challenges, including limited access to technology, high production costs, limited financing, high post-harvest losses, poor market access, labor shortages, and high labor costs. These issues hinder their productivity and economic potential.

“Supply chain optimization will enable small-scale farmers to meet increasing consumer demands, enhance food quality and safety, and promote sustainable practices,” Inuwa stated. “This can be achieved through the adoption of technologies such as AI, which can handle time-demanding tasks using machine learning and predictive modeling; IoT, which can monitor crops and generate real-time data to inform automation and best practices; and blockchain, which can provide end-to-end traceability in supply chains with sharable data, building consumer trust and making it easier to manage disease outbreaks in crops.”

Inuwa also highlighted NITDA’s active support for the growth of Nigeria’s agricultural sector, citing the National Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture (NAVSA) initiative, which has engaged 965 farmers in integrating technology into agriculture. He mentioned that NITDA’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan, 2024 – 2027 (SRAP 2.0), focuses on promoting technology in agriculture to boost food security, increase the sector’s GDP contribution, drive economic diversification, and create jobs, aligning with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda.

Citing a successful use case of a digitized agricultural sector, Inuwa mentioned that according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), agriculture contributes 33% to Kenya’s GDP. He disclosed that JICA, through its Small Horticulture Empowerment & Promotion (SHEP) Approach, doubled the income of 2,500 small-scale farmers between 2007 and 2009.

During the event, AGROVESTO Co-founder/CEO Bayo Adewoye shared that 63.5% of these farmers earn between 20,000 and 100,000 naira monthly during the sales season, with 63% selling their products in the open market. He added that the project is designed to address these challenges and expects to improve farmer incomes by connecting them to wider markets through digital tools, thereby boosting their bargaining power and sales.

Furthermore, digitizing agricultural value chains is expected to reduce post-harvest losses and improve the flow of goods, benefiting both farmers and markets. The initiative also aims to enhance digital literacy, empowering farmers with digital skills to access information and expand their market reach.

Adewoye explained that the next step involves rolling out digitization of market access, designing and integrating a tailored digital platform for market access, onboarding cooperatives and SHEP graduates to the platform, and conducting monitoring and evaluation activities, including review meetings with JICA and ONDI, webinars, and knowledge-sharing sessions.

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