Digital media can transform agriculture in Nigeria


• Country ready for AI revolution, says expert

Despite the huge mobile penetration in Nigeria, the country has barely utilised social media to improve the agricultural sector. This was the view of the Founder, X-ray Farms Consulting, Africanfarmer Mogaji, yesterday, at the ongoing Social Media Week (SMW).

Speaking at the session, ‘Technology and Agribusiness: ‘Why the future of farming is not farming’, Mogaji said because many stories were untold, opportunities were not seen, connections were not made and partnerships were not formed.

According to him, despite the numerous opportunities Internet created, a huge vacuum still exist in terms of information about the sector available to investors and entrepreneurs in the industry, saying, “this information is not privy to the largesse, thus the reason for the huge loss of funds by agric entrepreneurs”.

Narrating his experience, Mogaji, a former founding member of FarmCrowdy, said: “In my case, I had been running a model similar to FarmCrowdy offline for eight years and had lost over N40 million, however, when I joined the founding team of Farmcrowdy led by Onyeka Akumah (co-founder and CEO of FarmCrowdy), who is adept in digital marketing, building businesses and the technology space, the story drastically changed. There was an upward twist as there were accolades of several recognition and achievements in one year running into dollars.”

Corroborating him, the Founder/Chief Executive Officer, USAIFA, an agro-allied firm, Usman Ali Lawan, noted that digitisation has availed more opportunities, adding that technology and digital media can be used for data collation, data management and forecasting that can translate into revenue in the agric sector.

According to him, 80 per cent of Nigerians lose their investment based on misinformation and panic farming. There is a constant concern of panic farming that leads to loss of funds and dividends. Social media grants people platform to share information, however there remains authentication of such information.“Agricultural practitioners should leverage on this channel to introduce the right practices, educate farmers and investors on good agricultural practices (GAP),” he said.

Speaking on other issues that inhibit development in the sector, he disclosed that lack of funding, poor policies, double taxation; among others limit the potential of the sector.“My success in agribusiness is because I equipped myself with the right knowledge, engaged practices that reduced cost of production and practiced bio-security measures.

“Also, other major factors are: post- harvest losses due to lack of processing infrastructure, post-harvest handling, logistics, therefore, 40 to 60 per cent of what we produce got lost.Meanwhile, at the session on: ‘The closing gap between technology and humanity’, Managing Director, PHD Media, Johannesburg, Wayne Bishop, said Nigeria is ready for the evolution of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

For him, change is eminent and it is best to evolve and be abreast of it. Bishop said the implication of this evolution will reflect on consumers as this technology would enable Nigerians to be more efficient, aiding people with explorations, agencies and marketing ,as media agencies will can gather data for improved services and experiences.Speaking on the readiness of the Nigerian market for AI, Bishop noted that the country is a huge player considering its mobile penetration status.

“Nigeria has one of the highest mobile penetrations in the world with basic phones that perform the basic functionalities of any Smartphone. With this, AI will be operational,” he said. Also, he noted that innovation in Nigeria is non-linear, as there has been apparent demonstration of improved technology, adding: “We have linear and non-linear innovation. Linear innovation is when we had a transition from radio to walkman, to Discman, to minidisc, to MP3. It was basically an improvement of each technology.’’

“Nigeria is non-linear. Innovation truly comes from West Africa, East Africa and South Africa. This means that when virtual web comes here, it will leapfrog out of our desktops, websites and into other connecting devices to innovative forms and not necessarily in a linear form,” he stated.

Speaking on the launch in Nigeria, Bishop noted that, the Nigerian market is ripe, riding on her independence from oil. Nigeria has been redefining herself due to the decline of oil prices and another factor is the strong enterprising spirit. “We had a soft launch in South Africa, however, this is the main launch in Africa,” he said.

Corroborating him, Managing Director, PHD Nigeria Limited, Dozie Okafor, noted that technology is beyond the creation to utilisation; technology is to be used. It does not really matter who created it, what matters, is how you use it to enable your work.

During the Beat 99.9 FM’s session on how radio and television personalities influence people on social media, panelists called for presenters to watch what they post as they determine what their followers post on social media.

However, social media and innovations are boosting artists, making it easier to reach fans, get feedback and meet their needs. Beat FM also called for the public figures to post responsibly as it affects youths, who are constantly on social media.

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