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Agribusiness: Digital supply chains to transform small-scale farming in Nigeria –NITDA CEO

Dr. Salisu Kaka, Representative of the Director-General of NITDA (middle), Flanked by Mrs. Victoria Fabunmi, National Coordinator, Office for Nigeria Digital Innovation (2nd right); and the AGROVESTO Team at the Launch of Survey on Digitisation of Supply Chains in Small-Scale Nigerian Farms, in Abuja, FCT       Photo: NITDA

*Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE, Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency, affirms optimisation of supply chain optimisation will empower small-scale farmers to meet increasing consumer demands, enhance food quality and safety, and utilise sustainable practices

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has emphasised the transformative potential of advanced technologies in modern economies.

ConsumerConnect reports Malam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE, Director-General of the Information Technology (IT) sector regulatory agency, stated this while delivering a keynote speech at the launching of the Survey on the Digitisation of Supply-Chain in Small-Scale Nigerian Farms Project, in Abuja, FCT.

AGROVESTO (an Agritech startup and beneficiary of the iHatch Incubation Programme Cohort 2) in conjunction with NITDA, Office for Nigeria Digital Innovation (ONDI), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) with Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (FMAFS) as partner organised the event.

The Director-General of NITDA also emphasised the significance of such emerging technologies, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoTs), and Blockchain technology in addressing challenges faced by Nigerian farmers.

Inuwa stated these technologies could revolutionise agricultural practices and improve food security in Nigeria.

On transformative solutions to food security challenges

Represented at the programme by Engr. Salisu Kaka, Director of Digital Economy Department, Inuwa disclosed the purpose of the event was to launch a project that would enable smallholder farmers (SMF) in Nigeria to thrive, increase their income, and expand their market opportunities, thereby creating wealth and prosperity for the country through agriculture.

Agriculture, he noted, employs a significant number of Nigerian consumers, and accounts for 25.18 percent of Nigeria’s GDP in 2023 through crop production, livestock, forestry, and fishing, with crop production taking the largest share; maintaining that digitising the supply chain for small-scale farms offers a transformative solution to the challenges of food security in the country.

He also explained that small-scale farmers are the backbone of crop production in Nigeria.

Still, they face numerous challenges, including limited access to technology, high production costs, limited financing, high post-harvest losses, poor market access, labour shortages, and high labour costs.

According to NITDA Chief, these issues hinder their productivity and economic potential.

Inuwa affirmed that supply chain optimisation would ensure that small-scale farmers could meet the increasing consumer demands, enhance food quality and safety, and promote and utilise sustainable practices.

Importance of new techs adoption in supply chain optimisation, by Inuwa

He stated: “This can be achieved through the adoption of technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), which can handle time-demanding tasks using machine learning and predictive modelling; the Internet of Things (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 even making it easier to isolate and manage disease outbreaks in crops.”

The Director-General noted: “NITDA has been actively supporting the growth of Nigeria’s agricultural sector.

“One key initiative is the National Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture (NAVSA), which has engaged 965 farmers in integrating technology into agriculture.

“Our Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan, 2024 – 2027 (SRAP 2.0) also highlights our focus on promoting technology in agriculture to boost food security, increase the sector’s GDP contribution, drive economic diversification, and create jobs, aligning with the priorities of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda.”

Citing a good use of digitised agricultural sector, Inuwa further said the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) data revealed agriculture contributes 33 percent to Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

He equally stated that JICA, through its Small Horticulture Empowerment & Promotion (SHEP) Approach, doubled the income of 2,500 small-scale farmers between 2007 and 2009 alone.

In his presentation at the programme, Bayo Adewoye, Co-founder/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of AGROVESTO, said that 63.5 percent of the farmers earn between 20,000 and 100,000 Naira monthly during the sales season while 63 percent take their products to the open market to sell.

Adewoye noted the project  was designed to address these challenges.

He enumerated the expected outcomes to include improved farmer income by connecting farmers to wider markets through digital tools and increasing their bargaining power and sales, boosting their incomes.

The Co-founder also stressed that efficient Supply Chains through digitising agricultural value chains could reduce post-harvest losses and improve the flow of goods, benefiting farmers and markets.

The initiative, Adewoye stated, enhances digital literacy, empowers farmers with digital skills to enable them to leverage technology to access information and expand their market reach.

He further disclosed the next step is to rollout digitisation of access to the market, which entails the design and integration of a tailored digital platform for market access.

This process embraces the onboarding of cooperatives and SHEP graduates to the platform, said he.

Then monitoring and evaluation activities, which include review meetings with JICA and ONDI, webinar and knowledge sharing will follow, according to Adewoye.

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