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Agric Technology Hubs Will Boost Nigeria’s Economy—Ecobank

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The need to establish agriculture technology hubs across the country so as to boost the economy has been emphasised by the Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria, Mr Patrick Akinwuntan.

The banker argued that the establishment of these agric technology hubs will further generate activities in the entire value chain and also provide a base for exporting agriculture technology services to other parts of Africa.

Mr Akinwuntan expressed this opinion at the second edition of the Ecobank Agribusiness virtual Summit organised in association with Vanguard Economic Forum Series themed Digitizing the agricultural value chain for unlocking productivity, economic growth and food security.

He said the idea of an agriculture tech hub is quite exciting, saying, “I can directly say Ecobank will support this initiative because it brings the efficiency of a solution factory that is not only available in Nigeria but can also be a base for exporting agric-technology services to drive agriculture in the whole of Africa. I put Ecobank forward as a partner to bring this to reality.”

Earlier, the co-founder, Corporate Farmers International, Mr Akin Alabi, had disclosed that his organisation has initiated an agric technology hub to attract youths participation in the agric sector, noting that access to technology and innovations will further drive activities in that segment of the economy.

“We have developed a big platform, called a hub to serve both government and private institutions. The hub is generating interests and solutions. And now, we are in partnership with Lagos and Kebbi state governments.

“We are also working with series of agricenterprenures in the country. We have also used the power of technology, mobile phones to bring agric products from the farm gate to the market. We need the support of the private sector to develop the agric tech hub.

“A lot of Fintech hubs are developing different solutions, we also need that in the agric space. In Nigeria today, we can use digitalization to change the narrative and get younger ones to be interested in agriculture.

“At corporate farmers, we also created an e-learning academy during the COVID-19 lockdowns to bridge the gap between agriculture and education,” he stated.

In his contribution, the Vice President, Nigeria Agricbusiness Group (NABG), Mr Emmanuel Ijewere, noted that digitisation in agriculture must be brought to the actual people in the field who might not be well educated, noting that through technology one can buy food from vendors from wherever they are in any part of the country.

Further, Mr Ijewere noted that we can build a warehouse and make them efficient with the support of technology.

According to him, “Commodity exchanges cannot thrive unless the goods are there. How we move these goods with the support of digitisation and enabling us to provide a sufficient market is very strategic.”

The second edition of the Ecobank Agribusiness Summit organised in association with Vanguard Economic Forum Series had its primary content objective to discuss the role of technology and digitisation across the agricultural value chain.

The virtual summit had strategic partners such as the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) and Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG).

The speakers and panellists included Kenton Dashiell, Deputy Director-General, Partnership for Delivery, at International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA); Aliyu Abdulhameed, MD/CEO, NIRSAL; Ndidi Nwuneli, Co-founder/Managing Partner, Sahel Partner; Akin Alabi, Co-founder, Corporate Farmers International and Ayodeji Balogun, Country CEO, AFEX Commodities Exchange.

This virtual conference is part of Ecobank’s Digital Series which is in line with the bank’s vision to consolidate a modern Pan-African market, contribute to the economic development and financial integration of the continent.

The summit examined the potential impact of agriculture technology investment in fixing low productivity in Nigeria’s food production; evaluate existing traditional agriculture finance models in Nigeria and the role and impact of technology-enabled commodity exchange trading across the agriculture value chain amongst others.

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