The Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has called on African economies to adopt innovative technologies to achieve self-sufficiency in food production.
Osinbajo made the call at the virtual event of the Stanford Africa Business Forum themed: African Innovation Shaping the Global Future.
According to the Vice President, Africa’s agricultural production was well below its potential despite having 25 per cent of the world’s arable land of which 50 per cent remained uncultivated, warning that if care is not taken, the continent would continue to depend on unsustainable food aid and could witness increased food insecurity.
He maintained that innovation must come to the rescue, adding that there were many off-takers, filling the gaps in many areas of the agricultural value chain.
“There is a start-up called Kubeko from Côte d’Ivoire in West Africa, which produces low-cost equipment that can process biowaste into organic fertiliser. At a time when global oil and gas prices are at record highs, this sort of innovation will help to reduce the cost of producing food while reducing post-harvest losses.
“There are also quite a few fast-growing technology-driven agricultural companies. Thrive Agric for example, which recently secured $56.4 million in debt funding from commercial banks and institutional investors, links African farmers to capital, data-driven best practices, and local and global markets for their commodities,” he said.
Osinbajo also identified access to credit, especially for smallholder farmers and informal traders, as another challenge calling for innovation.
He recalled that the Federal Government through the Bank of Industry (BOI), introduced a digital micro-credit for 10 million informal traders in 2016, which proved to be successful, noting that the scheme led to the commissioning of its Growth Platform, which engaged 22,000 agents across Nigeria.
“Each agent is equipped with the platform’s proprietary mobile technologies, they receive mandates to capture and digitize businesses eligible for its growing suite of microcredit programmes,” the Vice President added.