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This partly contributed to the food sufficiency during the border closure. This, however, led to an increase in food prices. The Federal Government has also created empowerment programs to attract youth’s interest in agriculture. Despite several investments, the sector is yet to adopt the use of technology in the advancement of agriculture.
The country is yet to explore various technologies that would help boost the amount of agricultural produce. Although growth has been recorded over the years, the huge potential of the sector has not been fully realized. Low productivity as a result of climate change, lack of assets such as education, finance, equipment, and expertise constitutes the present challenges. If well explored through agricultural technologies, the sector will immensely affect the country’s GDP, even surpassing the amount generated from the oil sector which is no longer sustainable.
The agricultural sector employs 65% of the workforce and contributes 32% of GDP. The National Bureau of Statistics recorded that GDP from Agriculture in Nigeria was at an average of N3,874,017.71 from 2010 until 2019. It however rose to N5,408,978.92 in the third quarter of 2019. The huge rise in GDP from Agriculture clearly reveals that the sector has the potentials to yield massive returns for the country.
Before diving into the country’s need for technology, the nation must first address the constant ravaging flood. The flood that took place in 11 local government areas of Kebbi State in 2020 destroyed over 25% of Nigeria’s expected 8 million tonnes of rice harvest of the year.
Kebbi State Government disclosed that about 1 billion worth of rice and other farm produce were lost to the flood. Also, not less than 100,000 farmers became victims following the destruction of their farms. There is an urgent need for the construction of dams to curb flooding. Investment in agriculture will be wasted if not addressed.
The revolving world emphasizes the need for change. We either move with trends or we expose ourselves to the danger of getting obsolete. Change is required to meet up with the high demand for food and resources both for the country and exports.
Statistics show that Nigeria is one of the least mechanized farming countries in the world. The country’s tractor density is put at 0.27hp/ hectare. This is far less than the 1.5hp/ hectare recommended by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) for Africa and other developing countries.
Adewale Adegoke, GIS Expert stated that technology is needed in managing agricultural lands in Nigeria. The country lacks access to constantly evolving data. Farmers are not provided with information and a platform that enlighten them on the requisite technologies like mapping and crop monitoring for their daily workflow.
An online community network of farmers and other stakeholders in the sector will help enlighten farmers on modern-day farming. This will allow for the easy spread of news on innovation and also help create a support system.
We all know information is key, information on technology will enlighten farmers on the improved way of doing things.
Ndubuisi Ekekwe, an Engineer who specializes in Robotics and Neuromorphic systems at John Hopkins University in the U.S. disclosed that the marriage of agriculture and technology can help minimize extreme poverty in the country. He stated that with the majority of citizens working in the agricultural sector, fixing agriculture technically would fix Nigeria.
Doubling agricultural productivity will require a deviation from the norm we are accustomed to which yields little increase.
‘We must look for a new paradigm, by bringing a new technology to make our farmers think smarter, work more efficiently and be capable in utilizing factors of production in the agricultural business’, Ndubuisi stated.
He added that the only way this can be possible is by making agriculture a business. ‘Technology will tell the farmer with certainty that his crops are not getting enough water, and the need to provide an irrigation facility to supply water, if there is no rain,’ he added. This would help farmers harvest a total yield of over 85 percent from farmland.
Technology will also help maximize capital invested in the agricultural sector. Some farmers sell off the fertilizer provided to them by the government. Necessary technology can make the government know within two weeks if the farmer does not use the fertilizer.
Also, technology will help farmers identify nutritional differentials, either in phosphorus potassium, or whatever is needed in the fertilizer. This would help validate the changes that occurred after making use of the fertilizer.
‘In Africa, my message to innovators would be that they should come up with more user-friendly and affordable technologies to increase food productivity, even among the resource-poor farmers.’ Max Wengawenga, assistant chief economic advisor to the president of Malawi disclosed.
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Continuous investment in Agriculture will help empower farmers and provide them with the necessary infrastructure for the ease of work. The sector continues to be the backbone of the Nigerian economy. The development of new agricultural technologies should be followed with the education of farmers on effective usage.
The country needs to rise by contributing its quota in several ways such as delivering ideas, creating innovations for an easy process and so much more. Let us not isolate the work of improvement to the farmers alone. Nigeria needs to exit the regular way of doing agriculture and position itself for the future by utilizing tech and innovation.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) predicts that the agricultural market in Africa will grow to $1 trillion by 2030 through the help of technology. Agriculture is an effective tool for combating poverty in Nigeria and Africa at large. By employing technology, farming can contribute greatly to the sustenance of the economy.