Dr Isa Pantami, the Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has urged Nigerians to embrace modern agriculture with the use of Information Communications Technology (ICT) to boost production.
The DG gave the advice in a statement issued by Dr Amina Sambo-Magaji, the National Coordinator, Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE), on Tuesday in Abuja at the third edition of NITDA FutureHack event.
The programme was held in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State with a focus on e-agriculture to address challenges in the sector.
According to him, there is need for ‘Innovative Technology’ for addressing local challenges in the agriculture sector in Nigeria for Social and Economic Development.
“FutureHack is a national technology hackathon event, in which computer programmers collaborate intensively on software projects usually held in academic environments to to inculcate innovation and entrepreneurship culture in students to drive Nigeria’s digital economy.
“Modern agriculture is expanding globally with digitally enabled agriculture, precision farming, hydroponics, robotics and artificial intelligence.
“However, technology is an enabler and should be harnessed to revolutionise the agricultural sector in the country.
“Technology can be used to monitor yield, pest control, best time to add pesticides, plant illness prediction, multi-platform collecting data on crops, soil, nutrients and water to help the farmer in his decision making and more.
“This revolution has already begun. We have irrigation systems that are controlled by mobile phone and reducing labour cost,’’ Pantami said.
The DG also explained that agriculture is critical to the economy of country saying “it contributes to the growth of the Gross Domestic Product and employs a large number of the population.”
According to him, transforming agriculture through technology is a key to reviving the economy and technology can be used for agricultural products market linkages, food safety, to monitor food shipments throughout the whole supply chain.
“ICT can be used to control the challenges of poor disease, livestock theft, inferior storage facilities and preservation mechanisms for crops, access to market and access to financial support,’’ Pantami said.
He recalled the establishment of Growth and Enhancement Support Scheme (GESS) that used e-wallet system to enable registered users to receive vouchers on their mobile phones.
Pantami said the scheme granted farmers access to subsidised seeds and fertiliser, thereby cutting out the middle man, hence benefiting many farmers within the period of establishment.
He reiterated that the agency was committed to regulating and developing sectors of government by enabling ICT.
“We have Nigerian ICT startups that are already disrupting the Agri-tech space and NITDA is complementing President Muhammadu Buhari’s economic diversification initiative.
“We use this platform to stimulate creativity among the teaming and able Nigerian youth both in country and diaspora,” Pantami said.
A hackathon is usually a day long coding competition where software programmers, developers, designers, etc, come together to build and design innovative things.
This year, the FutureHack challenge is on leveraging technology to find innovative ideas that will change the narrative of health, agriculture and education in Nigeria.
The three editions had the North Central which held in Nile University, Abuja recently, North West in ABU Zaria and South West edition expected to hold in OAU, Ile-Ife, Osun state.