ICT Clinic (Punch Newspaper)

Transforming Nigeria’s agriculture sector with technology [ICT Clinic]

The government has been vocal in calling on the masses to consider taking up careers in agriculture as the days of our dependence on crude oil sales is already numbered. In the modern age that we now live in, farmers need to receive the right information at the right time in order to plan their cultivation well, from the clearing of land to the actual harvest and sale of farm products.

Information required by these farmers includes government policies on agriculture, new technologies that can be applied in farming, processing techniques and weather forecast. Weather forecast is necessary as the weather cycle has changed from what we used to know it to be, as kids, due to the effects of the depletion of the Ozone layer.

The tendency to succeed as a farmer these days is high if farmers are exposed to Information and Communications Technology.

“Over the phone, we can get all the information on agriculture that we need to obtain a good harvest”, stated a rural farmer, who is now part of a network that educates farmers using mobile devices.

Testimonies abound from rural farmers on what a mobile phone can do in transforming their old agricultural processes into the modern-day farming system. The use of a phone is just one of the positives that technology has brought to farming. If it can be applied more in the agricultural sector, as it has been done in other industries, we will, then, witness more rapid development of that sector and this will manifest in a bumper harvest that will get us closer to our objective of self-sufficiency in food production and supply in Nigeria.

There has to be a revolution in the way we store and market our harvested products too. This is why young ICT professionals are encouraged to take part in innovative challenges, which require them to develop ICT solutions that can solve food storage and marketing challenges. These challenges are being tackled in different parts of the African continent and this is an indication that ideas, experiences and thoughts from agricultural experts from diverse cultures and communities can be accessed with ease by users instantly and in real time, across multiple platforms.

The role of the Internet comes with great potential in transforming the sector. It offers multiple choices, especially among the farmers living in rural communities to stay updated and get information about the market and industry. The Internet is a platform that facilitates communication and sharing of valuable information among policymakers in the agricultural sector, agricultural development agencies, research institutes, experts in the industry and even, the farmers, among themselves. The challenges of language barrier and location are solved in one fell swoop, as the search engines can be accessed from any location, with the choice of language by the inquirer.

Despite the advances in technology mentioned in the previous paragraph, it is still quite unfortunate that a large number of the African population involved in agriculture lack the simplest of communication devices necessary to access vital information. Most times, the lack of information, as at the time it is required, can be very costly to the farmer. This is because information is time bound.

The importance of agriculture as a major sector, once again, cannot be overemphasised, as a large section of the population of a country live s in rural areas. What the government needs to do is to provide the enabling environment for the ICT operators, such as those in the telecom sector, to establish their equipment in — Finish Reading on the Punch