Editor's note: Prince Emmanuel Sam, an aide to Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom, writes on the agricultural revolution currently taking place under the watchful supervision of the governor in the south-south state.
Accurate information is a fundamental component of today’s decision-making processes and this can only be achieved through proper data gathering. From economics to humanities, data play an inestimable role in planning development and helping in policy formulation by any government.
It is anticipated that as the world’s population rises in 2050 to over 9bn – 34% higher than it is today, food production will need to increase by 70% on today’s levels. This, combined with considerable pressure on margins, means maximizing efficiencies is a priority for large scale production which can only be achieved through proper data and assistance from the government.
World Bank report states that three out of four people in developing countries live in rural areas and earn as less as $2 a day. These people live largely on subsistence farming whose contribution adds up to the growth of the agriculture sector.
Agriculture is the mainstay of many countries – either in a small or big way. From employment generation to contribution to national income, agriculture is important. In 2010, around 25 million persons were regularly engaged in agricultural work in the European Union. 58% of men were working on full time in farms.
2013 saw 77% of the total men were working full time. In case of contribution towards national income, agriculture contributes more than 50% in developing countries and normally a smaller percentage in developed countries.
No country, nation or community, can overlook the importance of agriculture. Other natural proceeds like oil, gold and diamond can vanish in the process of time, but agriculture will ever remain a fall back for any government.
In Akwa Ibom state from 2015 till date, the state has witnessed massive turn-around in agriculture. Many assistance has been offered to farmers by the administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel. For instance, the governor has provided assistance to 8, 200 cocoa farmers to cultivate 30000 hectares of cocoa farm. The administration has also given loans and grants to farmers as a way of assisting them to build a virile business entity.
Recently, Akwa Ibom state kick-started the enumeration of farmers across the 31 local government areas. The enumeration which is supervised by the Directorate of Agricultural Investments, Akwa Ibom Investment Corporation (AKICORP), commenced on the 25th May 2020 and has attracted commendations across various divides.
A brief on the farmers' enumeration shows that about 1500 enumerators have been deployed to cover the more than 2500 villages in the state. On completion, the data collected would be stored in a saver and in the cloud using a software called Akwa Ibom Information System, designed and developed by an indigenous ICT company, Elkanis and partners.
For the first time, Akwa Ibom state will have a data bank of farmers for that will help in planning and statistical analysis. The data will also serve as a strong customer base for the about to be commenced Ibom FADAMA Microfinance Bank by the state government.
The enumeration exercise is the first step in bringing down the price of the entire value chain of staple food.
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It is expected that at the end of the farmers' enumeration, over one million, five hundred farmers would have been enumerated with specific information about each of them, ranging from the size of the farm and how much can be used to expand their agric businesses.
In a postmodern world, data are an inevitable tool in planning. Farmers' enumeration by the administration of Mr Udom Emmanuel in a time like this, can be said to be a signal toward precision farming in the state.
Precision agriculture’s main objective is to ensure profitability, efficiency, and sustainability using the data gathered to guide both immediate and future decision-making. Data gathering in agriculture, as done by the Akwa Ibom state government, when translates into actionable information, can help improve business processes and solve problems at scale and speed.
If data gathering has made serious advancement in fields like information technology, healthcare, education and even sports, there is an obvious need for it in the agricultural industry too.
The Directorate of Agricultural Investments, Akwa Ibom Investment Corporation (AKICORP) has done so much by not only ensuring the exercise is successful but all farmers in the hinterlands are captured.
Without gainsay, it is believed data on farmers will attract funds from Central Bank of Nigeria and global agencies supporting and repositioning agriculture as the mainstay of many economies.
The administration of Governor Emmanuel deserves commendation for approving this lofty idea. It is the belief of every Akwa Ibom person, to see this project implemented to the end.
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