By Na’ankwat Dariem, Abuja
The National Information Technology Agency,NITDA has adopted 130 farmers in the National Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture,NAVSA, programme to provide Nigerian farmers with means to showcase their produce in the digital world market.
The project, piloted in Jigawa State,North West,Nigeria was initiated to adopt farmers across the 774 Local Government Areas in the country.
This is also to support and equip them with necessary skills that will make Nigeria one of the leading nations in digital farming.
One hundred and thirty thousand ,130, beneficiaries drawn from 27 Local Governments of Jigawa state were trained and also provided with Smart Devices, Internet Connectivity, Seed Fund worth One hundred thousand naira and Certified Seed during the official closing ceremony of the event that was held both physically and virtually.
The Executive Governor of Jigawa State, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar who attended the ceremony virtually appreciated the vision of the Minister for bringing the project to the state and promised to ensure its sustainability.
Governor Abubakar also cautioned the beneficiaries against misuse of the materials and knowledge impacted on them. He maintained that the state in the last few years has produced a lot of millionaires through rice farming precisely.
He said, “Jigawa State will remain grateful for being a chosen location to pilot this project that will alleviate poverty as well make the farmers independent in their lives.” He thanked the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, NITDA, and other partners for finding his state worthy to kick-start this laudable project,the Governor noted.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami said that there is need to come up with innovative ideas that will promote smart agriculture in Nigeria as a means of diversifying the nation’s economy, adding that Nigeria is blessed with a large fertile landmass.
Dr. Pantami noted that the National Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture (NAVSA) is part of the main policy of the National Digital Economy policy and strategy for a Digital Nigeria launched and unveiled by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR.
The Director General of NITDA, Mr. Kashifu Abdullahi Inuwa said that the goal of NAVSA is to build digital capabilities and innovations across agriculture value chains aimed to create massive jobs and improve the income and wealth of every ecosystem player.
According to him, currently in Nigeria, agriculture hires about 70% of the workforce.
Inuwa said NITDA, together with Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, conceived the idea of introducing digital platform for farmers, in order to carry them along in Digital Economy journey spearheaded by Minister, Dr Isa Ali Pantami.
He stated that, NAVSA was designed to take small scale farmers to commercial level using a performance-based approach. The project targets graduates between the age of 20 to 35 years with prerequisite knowledge to participate in AgricTech project.
“There is need for farmers to join this journey towards realisation of Dr Pantami’s dream to digitise Nigeria, and this is in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s promise to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next few years. We believe this can only be achieved through innovations, which technology plays a vital role in terms of jobs and wealth creation,” Inuwa explained.
The Director General reiterated that “NAVSA will enhance digital agriculture strategy, and support Federal Government policy by taking advantage of the growing youth population which constitutes over 50 per cent of the estimated 200 million population; farmers owned an estimated 82 million hectares of arable land, of which according to a research, only 42 per cent is being productively utilised. There are about 126 Million active internet users, 72 Million broadband subscription and 37.8% broadband penetration with 70% target by 2025 ,He added .