Disruptive technologies critical to agricultural development – DG NITDA



By Chimezie Godfrey

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has been described as critical role in the Agricultural sector that can guarantee cash flow and a major contributor to the nations’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa CCIE, said this when he received the Co-Founder of Corporate Farmers International (CFI), Mr Akinwale Alabi, and his team to the Agency’s Corporate Headquarters in Abuja to seek possible areas of collaboration in smart agriculture.

Inuwa noted that disruptive innovation using emerging technologies will create new markets and easy access to new products and services.

“There is a need to build these pieces of equipment locally by challenging our startups and tech gurus to come up with solutions to such problems. “The Agency has a Fab-Lab to check the product initiated through a proof-of-concept test. It then proceeds to the fabrication of the product to create a prototype for testing and then later mass production,” the DG added.

Inuwa further asserted that there is a need to create a value chain, adding that “creating platform to bring the farmers, up takers, and financial institutions together to ease the purchase of goods and services without leaving your destination. Instead, all you need is to place a request on the platform, requesting the logistics company to pick up and deliver to the point of initiation.”

“NITDA launched National Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture (NAVSA) programme to boost the capacity of young Nigerian farmers in the digital world market. NAVSA seeks to digitally transform the agricultural economy of farmers and their business models across all value chains to increase productivity.

The NAVSA pilot program was launched at the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, (FUNAAB) Ogun State, with 100 (One Hundred) young farmers. And later at the Federal University of Duste (FUD), Jigawa State, respectively, to create jobs directly/ indirectly in the country.

Inuwa stressed that the NITDA Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP) 2021 -2024 is a document crafted by the Agency that contains the vision of developing Nigeria into a sustainable digital economy that is prosperous and driven by technology.

SRAP has been tailored to proactively facilitate the country’s transformation into a sustainable Digital Economy but requires an elaborate stakeholder collaboration in implementing the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a Digital Nigeria.

He said, NITDA SRAP has seven (7) pillars namely: Developmental Regulation; Digital Literacy d Skills, Digital Transformation, Digital Innovation d Entrepreneurship, Cybersecurity, Emerging Technologies and Promotion Indigenous Content Development.

According to the DG, the pillars will foster dynamic regulatory instruments that will unlock opportunities across different sectors of the economy, enable the development of digital skills of Nigerians across different works of life, provide a robust digital platform to drive digitalization processes in the digital economy and enable innovation-driven small and medium enterprises to thrive. We expect that the outcome of this pillar will create opportunities for job creation

He cited that Cybersecurity will strengthen cyberspace and reduce vulnerabilities exploitable by threat actors to create a vibrant digital economy and protect the digital asset and allow citizens to have confidence in the digital economy. 

He added that Emerging Technologieswill facilitate the adoption and adaptation of emerging technologies in Nigeria and map the development of the digital economy with sustainable development goals in providing quality education, poverty eradication, good health and well-being, and reducing inequalities. 

Lastly, the DG said, Promotion of Indigenous Contentwill create an enabling environment for promoting and adopting indigenous innovation for a digital economy, develop indigenous products and services, increase patronage, and enable iterative problem-solving by indigenous digital technology. 

In his earlier remarks, the Co-Founder of Corporate Farmers International, Mr Akinwale Alabi, said the company is known for innovation around the agricultural ecosystem, building technologies, and rendering solutions for the system at large to boost production of agricultural produce. 

“Our major focus is to building young entrepreneurs and youth talents that will shape the narrative of Agriculture. And build a new system that will take Nigeria’s agricultural system to the next level”, Alabi said.

“I want to commend the DG of NITDA for the giant strides, intervention, programs, and the launch of the Digital Agricultural strategy that concentrates on the Agricultural sector. Taking advantage and being part of the enterprise document will change people’s perception of farming in the country.”

Alabi further revealed that it developed a system that speaks about Agricultural digital e-learning for young entrepreneurs to plugin quickly and learns easily across the agricultural value chain. This was done in 2022 when Covid was at its peak. And this has helped many farmers gain knowledge about agricultural activities, thereby changing their perception of farming.