CropIT Nigeria Limited (CropIT) in partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) have concluded plans to launch a robust digital platform that will impact on more than five million farmers and over 100,000 Agricultural Extension Officers.
Femi Afolabi, CropIT Managing Partner, announced the plan in Ibadan.
The initiative, which is grounded in the agricultural firm’s innovation partnership approach, would support the expansion of high-impact and digitally-enabled services to farmers and extension officers across Nigeria over the next three years.
“CropIT is an agriculture specialist company and a developer that provides ﬁnancing, management, advisory and services to producers, farmers and investors in the agricultural sector, within Nigeria and overseas.
“Its mission is to employ technical know-how to increase smallholder income and productivity by 50 percent reaching at least 40 percent women across Nigeria.
“It was created with the vision to transform Africa’s agriculture by deploying a comprehensive and innovative approach and solutions with strong international backing.
“The digital platform, which has leading organisations including MTN and 9mobile as strategic partners, will create a knowledge based farmer society and a well-structured extension officers network.
“For the farmer, the platform will offer access to reliable and affordable agricultural information, certification of extension officers.
“Development of agriculture protocols, e-advisory, and transactional services across major value chains including rice, cassava, soybeans, cowpea, maize, sorghum, cashew, livestock and fish through their mobile phones.
“These services are to be delivered through onsite extension workers and mobile devices using toll free calls and messages as well as physical and digital call centers as service medium to provide wide coverage over the dispersed farming settlements with limited rural infrastructure, ” he said.
CropIT’s Chairman, Alhaji Nasir Ado-Bayero, said Nigerian agriculture has potential although ”no one can eat potential.”
“Agriculture and our small farmers in particular must become the engine for growth. Africa and Nigeria in particular can feed the world.
“To do so we must make a fundamental paradigm shift: Agriculture should be seen as a business and not a development programme.
“It must be structured, developed and financed as a business for us to fully unlock its potential.
”Gains will not come easy, but as we do the right things, we will succeed,” he said.
He added that the digital era offers many new innovations and breakthrough opportunities.
The World Bank estimates show that the continent is likely to double in population to hold an estimated 2.5 billion of the world’s nearly 10 billion people by 2050.
“Experts say this represents an enormous potential for innovation and technology to transform African agriculture, bringing jobs and strengthening food security.