Agric Expert Sharon Idahosa Details How Nigeria Can Grow More Food, Reduce Prices
In the vast landscape of agriculture, few figures shine brightly. With an unwavering commitment to rural farmers and agricultural progress in Africa, Sharon Idahosa has garnered a reputation that extends far beyond her homeland.
At the helm of “Let’s Talk Agriculture”, a distinguished public relations and communications firm, Idahosa has carved a niche as a preeminent advocate, passionately championing the significance of agriculture and its profound influence on society.
In an exclusive interview with Legit.ng, Idahosa discusses her remarkable and steadfast dedication to furthering the progress of agriculture in Nigeria, shedding light on the path toward a more sustainable and prosperous agricultural future.
Idahosa, who currently serves as the Country Chair for Nigeria in the G100 and Mission Director at the Global Alliance for the Future of Food and Agriculture (GAFFA), is passionate about capacity building in agriculture and believes it will play a significant role in advancing the agricultural sector.
She says this has led her to found a non-profit organisation called Lifex Agriculture Initiative, aimed at building inclusiveness among rural farmers in Nigeria by providing them with training and educating them on the right approaches to sustainable agriculture.
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We target young people and women in agriculture by providing training, workshops, agribusiness advisory, and micro-credit schemes. Through our partnerships with Agro Market Square, SkillEd, and AgriCode Expo, we are ensuring that women and young people in agriculture thrive.
Secure farmers to secure food
One of the major areas for me is to support the livelihood & well-being of farmers considering that they are major contributors to the agricultural sector. They must have a secure livelihood to continue producing more food.
The emerging role of technology in agriculture
Smallholder farmers make up a significant portion of Nigeria’s agriculture sector. The ones located in the rural areas are unable to access resources, technology and markets, which hinders productivity.
According to Idahosa, the critical factor determining success for farmers is access to pertinent information and resources. Consequently, she fervently advocates for farmers to be provided with increased access to such vital knowledge and resources.
In terms of technology, we have blockchain technology which brings about traceability, transparency, and a lot more. Through this technology, farmers can put a premium on their agro-products ensuring they get the best value for their handwork, boycotting middlemen. This will no doubt increase their income.
She, however, projects a significant role that technology will play in advancing agriculture and ensuring food sufficiency in Nigeria. She emphasises that farmers already embracing technology are experiencing increased productivity and the bliss that comes with it.
Active participation of youths in agriculture
In the September 2023 Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Inflation Report published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), it was reported that Nigeria witnessed an inflation rate surge to 26.72%.
Nigeria is grappling with a significant challenge in sustaining employment opportunities for its predominantly youthful population, which exceeds 200 million people.
With a rapidly growing population, there is indeed an increasing demand for food in Nigeria.
Idahosa says the only way Nigeria can catch up with the demand and comfortably feed itself is to involve the youths in agriculture.
I think it is a fact that young people are the future of the agriculture industry. The truth is that young people have what it takes to create employment for themselves and even for others. All we need is an enabling environment to thrive. If we want to see the Nigerian agriculture industry grow, the government should prioritize the Nigerian youth.
The Nigerian government has instituted a range of agricultural policies and initiatives, with a significant focus on providing credit schemes to support farmers.
Idahosa notes that in addition to loans, the government must ensure quality seeds for more nutritious value.
This is where the government should come in, and partner with organizations that are working towards improving the nutritional quality of staple foods and providing the producers and cooperatives with access to quality seeds and inputs at a subsidized price.
Unlocking the potential of Africa’s agricultural landscape
In an effort to bolster the prominence of agriculture and strengthen connections among stakeholders, Idahosa is set to host the Africa Agri Convention in Abuja, scheduled for November 2023.
According to her, the inaugural edition of the convention tagged “Global Synergies for African Agriculture,” aims to bring together the brightest minds & innovations in the agricultural sector to unlock the immense potential of Africa’s agricultural landscape.
The overall objective of the Africa Agri Convention which is to bring African Agriculture players into a room filled with diverse opportunities to seek ways to do business & explore long-lasting partnerships for the good of the agricultural sector.
Presently, the agricultural sector is a paramount component of the nation’s economy, providing employment for approximately 70% of Nigeria’s workforce.
However, the sector continues to grapple with a lot of issues leading to low productivity and an inability to meet the dietary needs of the expanding population.
Four Nigerian Agric-Tech Startups Empowering Over 500,000 Smallholder Farmers
In related news, Legit.ng reported how four Nigerian agricultural tech startups are empowering hundreds of thousands of smallholder farmers.
Not only are these startups empowering farmers, but they have also provided avenues for ordinary Nigerians to invest and make money from agriculture.
They have been able to eliminate the fear of investing in the agricultural sector through the use of technology and reduce the dependence on government intervention funds for farmers.