Wednesday, 17 July 2019 18:39

Transforming Nigeria Food Systems With Affordable Digital Technology - Part 2 Featured

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In Africa, innovators have develop technologies, few of which are adopted by smallholder farmers. A technology that demands significant additional inputs, be they financial or physical, is less likely to be adopted compared to one that generates significant socioeconomic benefits. In Nigeria, smallholder farmers’ food security is under threat due to declining soil fertility, high cost of fertilizer, fragmented supply chain and poor access to commodity markets. These underlines the reason El-kanis and Partners is exploring affordable technology to improve food production and market accessibility for agricultural sustainability.

Most farms in Nigeria, livestock or crop are small, covering only few acres and pens. These smallholder farmers still maintain traditional farming practices because they lack access to information about latest practices. Majority of farmers live in remote villages, struggling to cultivate crops or raise livestock on small plots of poor land, they overuse macro fertilizers while missing the advantage they could gain from micro-fertilizers suitable for their crops and soil. They are also in dearth of technical knowledge of pest life cycles, management practice and thus often experience crop and livestock failure when a preventable infection or pest outbreak arises.

Agro-input companies have the products—such as fertilizer, veterinary drugs, improved seeds and pesticides—to help smallholder farmers grow better, more abundant crops and livestock. Still, these companies are confronted with set-backs that limits them from reaching smallholder farmers as expected. Without access to timely significant farmers’ behavioural pattern, these companies struggle to develop aggregate demand forecast needed to drive costs out of the supply chain and maximize sales. Their field agent works as medium between the company and smallholder farmers, yet some of these agents lack adequate agricultural knowledge, and are sometimes faced with language and cultural barrier which limits their productivity. Due to poor infrastructure, it’s most often difficult for agro-input companies to increase their product knowledge, manage their productivity, and capture their insights about upcoming product demand. Some agents also lack techniques on how to easily record and review farm and crop details. As a result, most field agent are discouraged to visit individual farmers frequently, and the few visit they make is sadly unproductive. Farmers, on experiencing the reality of poor result, show no loyalty to the company or their agent. The result is a high level of job frustration and attrition among field agents, input companies and farmers.

FarmX mobile Application, downloadable on Googleplay and farmTRUST local dialect IVR, developed by El-kanis and Partners connect these three stakeholders in rural agriculture—field agent, agro-input company and farmer—in order to improve agent productivity, product sales, and farmer’s crop and livestock yield. An end-to-end farm management solution, FarmX mobile Application and farmTRUST local dialect IVR integrates and processes data from multiple sources—including field agents, weather forecasts and commodity pricing to better inform end-users.

These digital platforms also provides access to training on topics such as applying fertilizer to crops, crop nurturing and livestock management. The application maintains farmer-level details, which allows the field agent calling on several farmers or farms to have a summary view of farmer and field demographics, requirements and performance. By equipping agents with the mobile app, the input companies will be able to capture important internal and external farm and weather information in real time and translate it into actionable advice that field agents could give to farmers.

For affordable technologies to be adopted, they must address the basic day to day needs of target communities such as requirements for food and cash income. El-kanis and Partners ensures that tangible benefits are realised by users and as commodities are linked to lucrative markets through our platform, the technology adoption will become natural. Using affordable technology platforms such as FarmX mobile Application and farmTRUST local dialect IVR to connect stakeholders along the whole value chain can increase the chance of successful food systems in Nigeria. To further harness the impact of digital technology on food systems, more innovation, summits and network must be created by companies, innovators, policy makers and consumers with the aim of adapting, modifying or re-cycling technologies that will suit the rising needs of food safety and food security.

However, The Fork, a Netherlands based organization, also El-kanis and Partners’ tech partner in agrifood is organising StrikeTwo Summit which is aimed at accelerating transparency, better distribution and circularity of food. It will bring together the essence of digital ecosystem and impact on food systems as highlighted on this blogpost.

StrikeTwo Summit is a platform where major players in global food and technology industry such as Unilever, Ahold Delhaize, CTA, CGIAR, FAO, Deloitte, IBM, Google, AMEC, Scantrust Rabobank etc. will meet to discuss further the status of our digital ecosystem while creating the road-map for the entire ecosystem. StrikeTwo Summit aims to accelerate transparency, better distribution and circularity of food and brings together the global digital ecosystem, providing a real understanding of the status of the digital ecosystem during three events with the themes Consumer trust, Farm income, and Chain management.

El-kanis and Partners will be attending Strike Two Summit to further expand her scope through collaboration, while understanding the need to learn and adopt new digital innovations that will make Nigeria food system more transparent, safe and circular: the future of food is starting now. Three events will be organized: the first takes place on September 19 and 20, 2019 in Amsterdam, focusing on global challenges regarding consumer trust.

 

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Ben Ekanikpong

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