AfDB Heads of State High Level Dialogue Themed: “A Shared Commitment To Transforming Agriculture In Africa”

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The African Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and their partners deserve our commendations for hosting this very important dialogue on perhaps, the most crucial development issue today, food security, and focusing especially on financing and partnerships that will promote Africa’s agricultural transformation through technology and innovation.


Nigeria has prioritized investment in specific innovations and technologies to achieve at-scale transformation of its agriculture. I will very quickly mention three initiatives that we are currently either implementing or working on, that speaks directly to these issues.


At the heart of Nigeria’s post-COVID-19 recovery plan, or what we describe as our Economic Sustainability Plan, is an Agriculture for Food and Jobs Plan (AFJP); where we seek to leverage suitable technologies to build a resilient food system for Nigeria, especially in the light of the economic, health and food supply chain devastations caused by the pandemic.


Implementation is well underway and we have quite a few impressive results already. During the COVID lockdowns, we trained and deployed over 34,000 young graduates all over the country covering over 8,000 local wards in 774 Local Government Areas.


Each of these young men and women had a locally developed app on smartphones and an electronic tablet to digitally register farmers and map out their farm GIS coordinates. So, we have registered and mapped about 6million smallholder farmers to their farmlands and we are also currently collecting 200,000 composite soil samples from these farms to be analyzed in 22 local soil laboratories to guide local fertilizer blending.


On the back of the farmer-farm database which we have developed, we are developing a digital Agriculture Exchange Platform (AgExchange) working with the Alliance Rabobank and MasterCard, in collaboration with local Fintech companies. These Fintech companies are run by young men and women, we have FarmCrowdy, Infinera, and CropIT.


This AgExchange will be an ecosystem or a one-stop-shop for providing a range of services and products to smallholder farmers such as real-time e-subsidies, credit-connect by providing credit score of farmers on the platform and linking them to financiers, insurance services, market place services for connecting producers, aggregators and off-takers based on competitive market prices. Input suppliers also, weather, pests, and disease indexing services will be provided on the exchange as well. The budget for the Agriculture for Foods and jobs Plan (AFJP) is $1.5billion


The second is our National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP). This is a 10-year plan to transform the livestock subsector with the focus being on transiting gradually from the nomadic system of cattle production to the more sedentary method of ranching.


This will involve training pastoralists in new ways of producing and rearing cattle sustainably to address the challenges of resource-based violent conflicts between crop farmers and cattle herders, and the generally low milk and beef productivity of indigenous cattle breeds.


So, the plan is to train the pastoralists in husbandry methods, emphasizing sustainable and climate-smart ranching. An indigenous technology company has developed a microchip for tracking the cattle and we are working on a pilot project with one of our development partners, the Netherland’s Government.


All the energy on the ranches will be from biogas, from cattle dung, and solar power. The ranch will be an integration of crops, pasture, and trees. The crops for the need of the pastoral household, the trees to fight desertification and enhance carbon sequestration rather than emission. So, funding for this is from budgets of our Federal and State governments intervention and as I have mentioned, bilateral support from development partners such as the government of the Netherlands. The initial sum is in the order of $280million.


The third is what we describe as the Green Imperative Project (GIP), now this is a five-year project and it’s in the sum of €995million, funded by the Import/Export Bank of Brazil (BDES) with support from Deutsche Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, and a few others.


It is an agriculture technology transfer package from Brazilian Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), Research and Training Institutes to Nigeria’s entrepreneurs, Research Institutes, and businesses.


The project involves the reactivation of dormant or partially operational privately owned agricultural equipment assembly plants and we also plan to establish under the programme, 632 privately owned primary production support service centers to sell farm mechanization services to smallholder and commercial farmers to address low productivity issues.


Part of the plan also is the establishment of about 142 privately owned agro-processing service centers, which will also be established to address post-harvest losses, path to market and supply chain challenges, and train about 100,000 new extension agents to address farmer advisory service delivery challenges with new technology and practice adoption.


An important feature of our strategy as I close is encouraging our young technopreneurs into agriculture and Agro services and we are enjoying some success as I said earlier with the technology for our Agro exchange and our Central Bank is also licensing Fintech companies, using mobile technology platforms.


Some of them have been able to give none-collateral credit using credit scoring algorithms to determine the creditworthiness of farmers and this is a very important part of our whole financial inclusion project because these Fintech companies are able to reach farmers practically anywhere, rate them using their credit scoring algorithms and get credit across to them in many of these far-long areas.


And so, I agree with Dr. Adesina and Mr. Tony Blair, that the future must involve making agriculture cool to attract young people.


Thank you very much for your time and attention.