The Federal Government and International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) have reiterated their commitment to up-scalie Information Communications Technology for Development (ICT4D) to empower smallholder farmers.
The programme will unlock potential in food systems and engender robust development in agriculture value chains for sustainable food security.
Dr Ernest Umakhihe, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), announced this on Wednesday in Abuja.
Umakhihe was speaking at the FGN/IFAD multi-stakeholder Strategic Dialogue on Scaling-up ICT4D, for smallholder farmers in Nigeria.
Represented by Tanimu Ibrahim, Director, Planning in the ministry, Umakhihe said there is a need for massive investments in ICT4D.
According to him, it will give farmers access to a variety of information sources that they can consult for regular agricultural programmes.
This step, he said, was necessary to fight against hunger and inherent food wastage in the value chains.
According to him, ICT4D will also widen the gap in the adoption of new technologies.
He said mainstreaming ICT4D services in agriculture would address the investment gaps and create farm management solutions in rural areas among low and middle-income earners.
The permanent secretary also said it would proffer solutions to post-harvest losses and other emerging challenges facing agriculture development.
“The Federal Government welcomes technologies and innovations that will drive the economic diversification of food systems transformation.
“We are also striving for the attainment of export food safety requirements for foreign exchange earnings.
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“It is pertinent to know that government recognise the wide use of ICT4D for economic growth as an easy and convenient mode to reach urban and rural farmers,” Umakhihe said.
He said the ICT4D programme would strengthen National Food and Nutrition Security.
This will also affect the National Agriculture Technology and Innovation Policy (NATIP 2023-2027) in line with National Development Plan.
Dr Dede Ekoue, IFAD Country Director, Nigeria, called for collaboration of all stakeholders in agriculture, finance, information technologies, development partners and farmers to harness the full potential of the programme.
According to Ekoue, such collaborations will make agriculture the economic mainstay of the country.
She said the incorporation of ICT4D would assist in addressing the impact of climate change, food security gaps, high food prices and global pandemics.
It would also connect farmers to markets, weak supply chains on food systems, and export supply needs of the country.
She said FG/IFAD organised the workshop to understand some best approaches to scaling up the use of ICT4D solutions.
IFAD Country Director added that it would empower smallholder farmers to improve productivity.
“The dialogue on scaling up ICT4D has agri-food-led demand-driven project, aims at extending digital solutions to farmers.
“This is to accelerate development on food systems and inject effective response to challenges in supply chains,” she said.
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