FarmKonnect Agribusiness Nigeria PLC, on Thursday inaugurated the first African electronic agricultural centre in Ibadan, to promote precision agriculture in Nigeria and Africa at large.
The electronic centre which conforms with global standards has classrooms, auditorium, computer training rooms, as well as a 51-man capacity data collection and analysis center.
Speaking at the inauguration, FarmKonnect Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr Azeez Saheed, said the project comprised two units.
They are FarmKonnect Agricultural Electronic Extension Service Centre (FAgEX) and FarmKonnect Institute for Data and Agribusiness Studies (FIDAS).
He said both units had the specific goal to provide input services to stakeholders in the agricultural value chain through training, research and business/professional consulting.
He said that the centre would contribute to food security and nutrition through modern technologies and methodologies.
“FAgEX leverages on modern technologies such as satellite imagery, drones, electro-optic systems, global positioning system, geographic information system and on-site sensors.
“FAgEX will enable us to monitor and receive live feeds from all farms and greenhouses anywhere in Africa.
“With this initiative, we can also control certain operations such as irrigation and humidification remotely,” he said.
The firm’s CEO emphasised that FAgEX would create about 700 jobs in Nigeria.
He added that FAgEX would be supported by the detachable squadrons of vehicles which are mobile laboratory, equipment platforms for transport of drones and testing equipment to farms.
“These vehicles are equipped with inverters, generators, beds and baths to enable overnight working at farming sites.
“With our Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Nigeria (RAIN), we may be able to mitigate risks of kidnaps on farms,” he said.
He emphasised the need to improve human capacity by increasing digital-data learning by farmers in the continent.
Saheed said FIDAS was established to increase knowledge and skills acquisition by stakeholders in the demand and supply sides as well as the business dimensions of agricultural value chains.
He said it would also raise more business-oriented professional farmers through classroom and field exposure to modern agri-business practices.
“FIDAS has a general goal to produce a generation of smart-farmers who are data-conscious and can make data-driven decisions in their respective endeavours in the agricultural value chains.
“The project, first of its kind in Africa, will ensure the integration of big data and cloud-based ecosystems that will connect various data points.
“This will enable stakeholders in any part of the agricultural value chain to make informed decisions,” he said.
He noted that the facility would partner technology hubs from the Netherlands, India, USA, UK, China, Russia, Sweden and Nigeria to provide data-driven solutions to farmers.
Saheed, an integrated farmer and agri-prenuer, remarked that the project was privately funded by patriotic Nigerians who believed in the goal and brand.
He however urged financial institutions, coperative societies and governments to collaborate with the firm to achieve its goal.
Also speaking, Dr Debo Akande, the Director-General, Oyo State Agri-business Development Agency, said the state government had prioritised agri-business/agriculture.
Akande remarked that the government focused on four areas: education, health, security and expanded economy, which would build on agri-business within the state.
Also, Dr Machus Ogunbiyi, the South-West Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, said the ministry focused on food security, wealth and job creation.
While commending FarmKonnect for supporting the ministry’s agenda, Ogunbiyi pledged to assist the firm to achieve it goal in Nigeria.