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Boosting agricultural productivity through modern technologies

There is a lot of innovation in the mobile/IT, agricultural machinery and energy spaces that have the potential to make a huge impact on the farm and in the agribusiness sub-sector.

For example, smart power systems, superior processing machines, precision agriculture tools, farm management software, and affordable sensors are all within reach of even the smallest farmers today. Ultimately, we think that all of these technologies, when deployed effectively, will work towards achieving the following long-term objectives of improved farmers’ livelihoods, food security, youth employment and rapid economic growth for Nigeria.

As economies continue to develop, the percentage of the people employed in the agricultural sector declines. In general, an increase in GDP leads to a [KKA1] decrease in the percentage of people employed in agriculture, controlling for growth in the labour force. It is of utmost importance to invest in modern technologies to improve farm efficiency, boost processing potential and attract youth into agribusiness.

Between the 26th and 28th March 2019, the capital city of the Osun State, Osogbo in South-west Nigeria witnessed an influx of high-profile dignitaries who attended the maiden edition of the international agricultural exhibition and conference tagged Agritech Nigeria Osun 2019. Agrictech Nigeria, Osun 2019 is Nigeria’s largest exhibition and conference on agriculture, farm machinery, dairy, poultry, water technology, livestock equipment, agriculture processing technologies and environmental control. This provided a meeting avenue for business executives, farmers and processors who are in need of technological tools and innovation, market, management and business partnership to increase their productivity, sale and market share.

The event was organized by Fesco Agalu Nigeria Limited- a privately-owned Nigerian company, with facilitating support from the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Osun State Government, selected foreign missions and a host of other partners and stakeholders. Agritech Nigeria Osun 2019 was held at the Aurora International Conference Centre, Ring Road, Osogbo.

The organizers and participants of the agricultural trade fair were pleased that the Ambassadors of Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba, Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire, Burundi, Republic of Benin, representatives of the Israeli Embassy and the United Nations took part in the opening ceremony of the agricultural trade fair. This fair led to bilateral agreements and the sealing of several international business partnerships.

The three-day event featured a Diplomatic/Economic Forum, while a good number of agencies of the Federal Government which are agricultural and agro allied specialized also held sessions on different challenges facing agriculture in Nigeria and proffer solutions.

 

YPARD and the Agritech Journey

Agrictech Nigeria, Osun 2019 is a journey into the future and prosperity of agribusiness in Nigeria, a country with a population of over 184 million people and the largest market in Africa. This programme comes at a period in Nigeria’s history when the government is putting all its resources to diversify Nigeria’s economy from reliance on crude oil to agriculture. For three days, this exhibition and conference provided the opportunity to showcase the latest, modern and super-intensive agricultural technologies and products, aimed at boosting productivity and improving economic growth. The main focus is to turn agriculture into agribusiness by providing solutions to major challenges facing the development of Agriculture in Nigeria. The said challenges are not limited to poor funding, low use of technology but are also attributed to inadequate basic knowledge and exposure to agro-innovation techniques.

As a strategic partner in youth development, YPARD Nigeria (Young Professionals for Agricultural Development) was featured as one of the panellists on the session, Agricultural Basic Education and Training on the last day of the fair. YPARD Nigeria delegate, Julian Akinremi advocated that teaching materials and a practical demonstration in agricultural training centres need to be linked to advances in technology, to facilitate innovation. Julian said this will have greater relevance to the diverse and evolving agricultural sector, with a focus on agribusiness and entrepreneurship. Aside from technical skills, equipping youth with the capacity for management, teamwork, decision-making, communication and leadership skills should also be a priority for informal learning and higher education for agriculture. Reforms to agricultural training and education should be designed for young people and as such the process requires the direct engagement of youth.

The exhibition offered a wide range of opportunities to exhibitor companies so as to maximize their returns on investments (ROI) by driving more leads, gaining sales at standpoints, increasing brand visibility, and attracting sustained business relationships and partnerships beyond the events.

Highlights of the Agrictech Nigeria, Osun 2019

Highlights were the key diplomatic sessions involving several diplomats and featured ways of promoting bilateral trade among the participating countries.

The first diplomatic session which took place was led by the Ambassador of Brazil to Nigeria, His Excellency Ricardo Guerra de Araujo. He talked about the Green Imperative Program that will establish agro assembly plants in six geopolitical zones in Nigeria. This program will help to create millions of jobs for youth and grow the economy. The Israeli and Venezuelan ambassadors made commitments to facilitate partnerships that would lead to the training of Nigerian youth on agricultural innovations and techniques.

The Kenyan Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr Wilfred G. Machage highlighted some of the reasons why Kenya has recorded huge success in agriculture as

  • government institutions pioneering demand-driven agricultural research,
  • the formation of agricultural cooperatives societies for synergy
  • self-regulatory industries promoting best practice
  • provision of support for small scale producers of crops
  • prioritization of the cultivation of cash crops
  • deployment of irrigation techniques and greenhouse facilities and ultimately
  • the provision of training and funding opportunities for youth which led to huge investments in modern farming and agribusiness.

According to Dr. Machage all these he pointed out provide moments of networking, learning and best practice sharing.

The event was rounded up with a professional tour for participants around key places for sight-seeing, exploration and excursion. The following were the points of call were: Ede Cocoa Processing Plant, Osun State, Ile Osuji Cocoa Processing Plant, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Ibadan, Federal College of Agriculture, Moor Plantation Ibadan, Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), Osun Osogbo Groove - which is a UNESCO Tourism Centre, and a host of other amazing sites.

Photo credit: Farotimi Olaoluwa