Sasakawa Africa Association(SAA), has promised to engage youths in agriculture by providing timely information and technology to rural farmers and extension agents through its e-extension services.
Prof. Ruth Oniango, the Board Chairman of SSA, an agricultural technology NGO disclosed this in an interview with newsmen after the board’s annual meeting on Sunday in Abuja.
Oniango described technology as the only means of luring youths into agriculture, adding that Sasakawa would allow them to use mobile phones do their businesses within the agricultural sector.
She said that apart from tilling the land, other opportunities exist in marketing including the creation of applications to link farmers far and wide to markets.
“These technologies are so important and mobile phone penetration in Nigeria is huge and we have seen some of the innovations in universities and training youths in this sector is crucial to us.
“We are going to continue to work to make sure that agriculture becomes an aspiration to the youths and the women, especially in the rural areas,’’ she said.
The chairman said there were enormous opportunities in agriculture and commended the Buhari administration for its commitment for reviving agriculture.
“Agriculture drove Nigeria before the era of the oil boom and we have seen government effort towards making sure that Nigeria does not import rice into the country,’’ Oniango said.
Dr Amit Roy, the Vice Chairman of the Board, said that through its e-extension, the NGO would disseminate information instantaneously to farmers and extension agents for decision making.
“We are going to provide the tools for them to be successful; we are going to bring the technology, timely information because most farmers have cell phones.
“That is going to be an important element in our intervention because ultimately, agriculture is a business, farmers are in it because they want to make money and livelihood.
“We are going to help them bring in new technologies, new knowledge and new tools for them to succeed,’’ Roy said.
According to him, Nigeria is very important for Sasakawa as the country made a transition and decision from oil economy to agriculture.
He said that it was a big transition to create employment and ensure food security.
Mr Ichiro Kabasawa, the Executive Director of the Nippon Foundation said that technology “is very important in many sectors, especially agriculture.”
He said that most of the farmers in Nigeria have cell phones, “so we must use those new technologies to develop new projects to support farmers in Nigeria.’’
Prof. Sani Ahmed, the Country Director of the Sasakawa said that the NGO has presence in 19 states of the federation.
“The NGO is responsible for raising productivity and dissemination of technology in hybrid maize in Nigeria.
“We raised the yield from 1.5 to 5 tonnes per hectare and of recent cassava of which we raised the yield from 12 and 15 tonnes to up to 30 tonnes per hectare.
“We also raised rice yield from 3 tonnes to 6 tonnes per hectare and these are the evidences,’’ he said.