In order to use Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for development (ICT4D) in the Agricultural Sector and make access to digital technologies more equitable, the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi has restated the Agency’s commitment to ensure sustainable solutions for smallholder farmers in the country.
Inuwa reiterated this during a working visit on him by the Country Director, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Mrs Dede Ekoue.
The Director-General maintained that NITDA has continued to undertake several initiatives towards supporting smallholder farmers and enhancing productivity within the farming 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”, Inuwa asserted.
Beyond utilising ICT to improve food productivity for subsistence farmers, the DG was also assertive that it will attract the youthful population to take up farming as a business which he said would somewhat retire the narrative that ‘farming is an activity solely for people 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 averred.
While briefing his guests on some of NITDA’s collaborations and efforts in the sector, Inuwa recalled that the Agency had since started a relationship with the Ministry of Agriculture which took off with the development of “Smart Agric Strategy” for them, followed by some initiatives like NAVSA, e.t.c.
“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.
About the partnership request by IFAD for the Agency to participate in its forthcoming policy dialogue, and explore other possible channels/areas to collaborate on, the NITDA Boss appreciated the hand of friendship extended to the Organisation and confirm the Agency’s readiness to come on board, noting that it is NITDA’s culture to partner any individual, group or body that has a viable proposition targeted at adding value to Nigeria and Nigerians.
“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 said.
He assured the IFAD team of NITDA’s unflinching resolve to deepen the partnership between the two organisations and welcome other bodies they highlighted would be brought in.
The Country Director, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Mrs Dede Ekoue who led the delegation, earlier informed NITDA’s Management team that the visit was to strengthen the existing partnership and thank the Agency for its support at different times it was sought after, particularly for the Multi-stakeholder Dialogue on ICT4D for smallholder farmers that was held in May, 2023.
Mrs Ekoue went on to explain that the Dialogue helped the team undertake several activities, including capacity building, exchange of 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”, Ekoue stressed.
She expressed gratitude for NITDA DG’s assurances in granting IFAD’s collaboration requests which she mentioned would assist in leveraging community of actors, as NITDA is not only supporting the course but also would mobilise the support of other key stakeholders, invariably, enabling smallholder farmers access digital solutions across board.