By Cynthia Alo
Heifer Nigeria, in collaboration with Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), is organizing a side event at the 27th edition of the Nigerian Economic Summit (NES #27) to convene and interact with key stakeholders on the role of youth and technology in the transformation and future of Nigeria’s agricultural sector. The event themed: “Youth and Technology: The Future of Africa’s Agriculture” is in line with the NES 27 theme: “Securing Our Future: The Fierce Urgency of Now”. The event will be held October 25-26 at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.
Rufus Idris, Country Director, Heifer Nigeria said, “Youth are the future of agriculture in Africa, and they can bring the much-needed innovation that will enable African farmers to feed the continent’s growing population in the years ahead. Leveraging technology and modern practices will create a pathway for Nigeria to increase productivity and competitiveness of the agricultural sector to curb food insecurity and poverty. Heifer International is committed to supporting a business ecosystem that enables youths to drive innovation in the sector, growing their incomes through sustainable and scalable food, and farming practices.”
For more than 47 years, Heifer International has been working side by side with smallholder farmers in Africa, supporting them to reach a sustainable living income. Investing in infrastructure, facilitating access to finance, supporting ground up innovation and building social capital are central to Heifer’s approach, ensuring that smallholder farmers are able to benefit from agricultural value chains. Heifer International’s programs in Nigeria aim to assist more than one million farmers and mainly youth to reach a sustainable living income by year 2030 through strategic private and public sector partnerships, unlocking demand and market opportunities, leveraging finance across priority value chains, and leveraging innovation and emerging agricultural technologies to reach transformational scale.
According to a statement from the company, with agriculture already accounting for an estimated 35% of employment in Nigeria, the sector is ripe for innovation and has the potential to be one of the largest domestic employers, meeting local demands and increasing productivity across the agricultural sector.
A recent Heifer survey across 11 countries revealed that while there is a wide range of agritech innovations that could propel Nigerian farmers to profitability, only 23% of youth engaged in agriculture are using any form of agricultural technology. The report reveals the need for new investments to stimulate access to innovations to encourage African youth who are turning away from the agriculture to reconsider opportunities in the sector, especially given the need to generate jobs and repair food systems already affected by the pandemic.
The NES side event is an interactive hybrid program that will bring together multi-stakeholder including youth innovators, incubators, farmers and agribusinesses, government agencies and donors to support the development and scale-up of innovative solutions capable of transforming Nigeria’s agricultural sector and strengthening food security.