The Federal Government is to deepen its collaboration with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) through technology to boost food production and improve the livelihood of smallholder farmers.
Dr Ernest Umakhihe, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, made this known at the Information Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) Monitoring and Evaluation (M and E) training on Wednesday in Abuja.
Umakhihe, represented by Mr Ibrahim Tanimu, Director, Planning and Policy Coordination in the ministry, identified the ICT4D component of IFAD projects as an important part of the present government agenda of transforming the agricultural sector.
He emphasised that agriculture had to be diversified through the use of technology, adding that without technology the nation could achieve much in food production considering the numerous challenges bedeviling the sector.
Umakhihe said the country could scale up agricultural production and assist the smallholder farmers through the adoption of technology since they were the critical stakeholders in the ministry.
“We have numerous challenges in this sector such as insecurity, and high inflation of food items in the market among others.
“These are challenges that can be minimised with the use of technology.
“Insecurity has made it possible that some farmers cannot even reach their farms but with the use of technology, we will be able to monitor the farms and farmers.
“We have a challenge, and we shall put heads together to ensure robust production of agricultural food to ensure that we are food secured, otherwise if we are not food secured the African continent will be in danger, that is what we do not want to happen, ” he said.
Umakhihe, who commended IFAD for the giant stride, said the ministry would `borrow a leaf’ from the innovation.
He said IFAD ICT4D was in line with the Federal Government’s agricultural value chain transformation agenda.
Mrs Dede Ekoue, IFAD Nigeria Country Director, said the essence of the training was to use the power of digital solutions to improve the monitoring and evaluation of our project to yield the best results.
Ekoue said the Federal Government and IFAD were investing heavily in projects to boost agricultural production and improve the livelihood of smallholder farmers adding that these projects must yield the best results.
She identified ICT4D as the key to scaling up results for farmers.
According to her, there need to use digital tools to track the results; to track whether the result is in line with the objectives; to ensure that these results are efficient and to learn from these results to improve on the project.
“So, the essence of the digital training on M and E is to use ICT4D which is a technological solution to scale up our results for the real farmers.
“When we use the ICT4D solution, we are able to make sure that staff use them to work on the project; and farmers also use them to give their feedback on the project.
“This feedback can be done through cell phone, SMS, WhatsApp among other internet tools,” she said.
Ekoue said that M and E system was to know whether the investments provided by a Local Government in terms of input such as fertilizer were helping to increase production in the farms supported by the organisation and government.
She said the training provided participants with knowledge of the current state of ICT4D in agriculture including access and application of tools and technologies in transforming rural agriculture.
Ekoue said it was also to ascertain how various stakeholders in a digital agricultural ecosystem project could best meet their specific objectives using the concepts of interoperability as an overall framework and guide.
NAN reports that the 70 participants at the training were drawn from the Ministries of Agriculture, Finance, and staff of projects.
Source: News Agency of Nigeria