The International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), said it has trained about about 80 stakeholders in the agricultural sector on digital monitoring of IFAD projects.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Dr Ernest Umakhihe, while speaking at the Information Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) Monitoring and Evaluation (M and E) training in Abuja, assured that the Federal Government will deepen collaboration with IFAD through the use of technology to boost food production in the country and improve the livelihood of smallholder farmers.
Umakhihe who was represented by the Director, Planning and Policy Coordination in the ministry, Mr Ibrahim Tanimu, identified ICT4D component of IFAD projects as an important part of the present government agenda of transforming agricultural sector.
He emphasised that agriculture has to be diversify through the use of technology saying without technology the nation cannot achieve much in food production considering the numerous challenges bedeviling the sector.
Umakhihe said the country could scale up agricultural production and assist the smallholder farmers been the critical stakeholders in the ministry through the adoption of technology.
“We have numerous challenges in this sector like insecurity, high inflation of food items in the market among others. These are challenges that can be minimise with the use of technology.
“Insecurity has made it possible that some farmers cannot even reach their farms but with the use of technology we will be able to monitor the farms and farmers will have minimal time to waste reaching out to their farms, they can use technology.
“We have a challenge and we should put head together to ensure robust production of agricultural food so that we are food secured otherwise if we are not food secured African continent is in danger that is what we do not want to happen”, he said.
Umakhihe, who commended IFAD for the giant stride said the ministry would borrow a leaf.
He noted that IFAD ICT4D was in line with the Federal Government agricultural value chain transformation agenda.
IFAD Nigeria Country Director, Dede Ekoue, said the essence of the training was to use the power of digital solution to improve the monitoring and evaluation of our project to yield the best result.
Ekoue said the Federal Government and IFAD are investing heavily in projects to boost agricultural production and improved the livelihood of smallholder farmers adding that these projects must yield the best result.
She identified ICT4D as key to scale up result for farmers.
She said: “We need to use the digital tool to track the result, to track whether the result is in line with the objective to ensure that these results are efficient and to learn also from these results to continue improving on the project.
“So, the essence of the digital training on M and E is to use ICT4D which is technological solution to scale up our result for the real farmers.
“When we use ICT4D solution, we are able to make sure that staff are using those solutions to work on the project also to have farmers use those solutions to give their feed back on the project result and feedback on how we can improve.
“These feedback can be done through cell phone, SMS, Whatsapp among other internet tool”, she said.
Ekoue said that M and E system was to know exactly whether the investment provided in a Local Government in terms of input like fertiliser is helping to increase production in the farm supported by the organisation and government.
According to her, if it was not giving the full result, “then, we must change the approach of working that is where it goes down to the farmers. To change, we need to ask the farmers if we are getting the result, what can we do better.
She said the training provided participants with knowledge of current state of ICT4D in agriculture including access and application of tools and technologies in transforming rural agriculture.
Ekoue said it was also to ascertain how various stakeholders in a digital agricultural ecosystem project could best meet their specific objectives using the concepts of interoperability as an overall framework and guide.