Art and Culture

Agritech Vital to Reducing Nigeria’s $22bn Annual Spend on Food Imports

todayAugust 23, 2022 1

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Gilbert Ekugbe

The Country Director, Nigeria, Heifer International, Mr. Rufus Idris, has stated that agriculture technology has a vital role in addressing Nigeria’s huge annual spend on food importation estimated to be $22 billion.

Idris stated this on the sidelines of the official launch of AYUTE Africa Challenge (AAC) in Lagos.

He attributed Nigeria’s importation of food to country’s inability to meet its food needs.

According to him, “So many times importing food might be cheaper than buying from here. What I think agritech can do is increase tremendously the yield per hectare the farmers would get, and that automatically affects the pricing to make us compete with other countries that produce more.

“With agritech, we can achieve a significant milestone in food production. Agritech makes the farmers activities more efficient and more productive. It makes more yields available and it helps them to compete in terms of pricing with the rest of the world and I think it will also help reduce reliance on importation and boost investment in agriculture locally. Hopefully, we can have even if not more of the $22 billion that we currently spend on importing food into the country.”

He stated that the firm’s main focus is to help small holder farmers and lead them to sustainable income while addressing the food security issues in Nigeria.”

Idris added: “Today we are here to launch the AYUTE Nigeria challenge mainly to encourage young people at the start-up stage that needs financing, mentorship to be able to come up with innovations that can help small holder farmers increase their productivity.

“We also have our signature programme called the Nigeria unlock programme mainly to help unlock Nigeria’s capacity and potentials to grow food that will feed Nigeria and also address food security issues.”  

He also said that the firm is working with tomato farmers to reach 250 tomato farmers between now and 2025 while also connecting them to markets that would pay them premium price for their products.

“We are also providing them with cold support storage services within their farming clusters to reduce post-harvest losses and also linking them to financing. We have earmarked some money to create a unique financing model to provide finance to small holder farmers in the country,” he stressed.

He, however, stated that Heifer International’s investment on the continent to achieve food security has hit $1 billion in 48 years, stressing that the investment was meant to drive different agricultural projects across Africa.

He further revealed that the firm has invested over $4.5 million under its tractor for Africa initiative to empower small holder farmers, adding that this year alone, Heifer would be committing another $6.5 million to develop the agricultural value chain.

Idris noted that the firm has been able to supply 40 tractors to small holder farmers to drive mechanised farming.

“Our idea is that by 2030, we should have been able to supply about 10,000 tractors across countries where we currently work under our tractor for Africa initiative,” he said.

He, however, stated that the AAC is a platform to source for technology businesses and innovators that would come up solutions aimed at addressing challenges faced by small holder farmers.

Also speaking, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Lagos State, Ms. Abisola Olusanya, said that the lack of youth participation in agriculture is due to the nation’s inability to celebrate youths and individuals that have done well in the agricultural sector.

She lamented that the nation has taken the availability of food for granted, saying the more the country experience tribal and ethnic conflicts Nigeria will continue to have issues around its food systems and distribution.

“Only then we will begin to understand that to grow our own food is pertinent and that is where technology actually comes into place,” she said.

She identified poor access to funding, low technical skills, and the perceived unprofitability around agriculture as among the factors responsible for lack of youth participation in agriculture.  

She said the image of agriculture has to change through the deployment of technology in order to attract youths into the agricultural sector.

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Gilbert Ekugbe The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) has said that it has equipped small holders farmers with free agricultural inputs and quality seeds in its bid to boost food production, eradicate poverty and create employment opportunities for the nation’s teeming youths. The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Mohammad Abubakar stated this at the Federal Secretariat Complex, Katsina State,  where he conducted the distribution of equipment […]

todayAugust 23, 2022

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