By Temitayo Ayetoto
As tech-savvy youths gather at the Social Media Week session on fusing agricultural practices with opportunities in smart technologies, experts have identified growing knowledge gap as one of the issues stalling the success of new entrants into the sector.
They believe that while the social media might serve as a veritable platform for information sharing and networking, youths must be cautious of feeding on the wrong information in relation to best agricultural practices.
Usman Ali Lawan, the chief executive officer of UASIFA International Ltd, told business a.m. on the sidewalk of the gathering that agricultural entrepreneur needs to equip themselves with the right knowledge to avoid falling into an 80 percent category of new agric-business that might fail to profit.
Despite persisting challenge of funding facing agricultural start-ups in Nigeria, he said they can now leverage on social media not only to gain information on valuable knowledge but also to gain information about access to funding and programmes that provide you with grants and soft loans, among others.
Lawan also noted that entrepreneurs must be able to understand their processes and engage themselves in methodologies that help to reduce the cost of production, minimise accidents or disease incursion as it affects any of their fields.
Admitting the government needs to channel efforts towards synchronising policies that affect agriculture in all tiers of governance, he said: “There is a lot of incentive now to go into agriculture and the market is big and has continued to grow. The population is increasing and people would eat no matter what and the government is very interested in agriculture and it is encouraging the youths. There are funds in the CBN, Bank of Industry (BoI), and other foundations like Tony Elumelu entrepreneurship programme, AYEN, among others who actually are open to and welcome young people interested in agric-business and agriculture.”
African Farmer Mogaji, Best Foods Group CEO described the current level of social media utilisation in the sector as very poor, saying: “we have not scratched 2% of what social media or technology can do for us in the agricultural sector. We need to promote and encourage. We need to package agriculture at the level that the youth can understand. We need to open up the agric business value chain via social media to Nigerians.”
Besides the application of technology, Mogaji believes that agricultural players need to identify their strength, leverage on it and connect with people in other areas of strength elevate their practice.
He said: “As you leverage on technology and social media, look for other people’s strength and be willing to lose out. In the agriculture sector, nobody is paying attention. So we are still talking about it rather than doing a lot.”