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 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 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 add up to the growth of 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% 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 since 2015 till date, the state has witnessed massive turn-around in agriculture. Many assistance have 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 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; Executive Director of AKICORP, Pastor Umo Eno, was quoted to have said. Note that, the consulting firm for the enumeration, Elkanis and partners has won many global awards in software development.
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.
“At the end of this exercise, farmers will be encouraged to produce specific crops like cassava in commercial quantities which the government will offtake and supply to all the garri processing mills to produce garri, fufu and garri at affordable prices,” pastor Eno disclosed.
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 farm and how much can be used to expand their agric businesses.
In postmodern world, data are 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.
For the past weeks, the Directorate, led by the Executive Director and his Deputy, Pastor Umo Eno and Mr. Ofonmbuk Nelson, accompanied by a member of Technical Committee on Agriculture and Food Sufficiency, Mr. Gabriel Nkannang have visited local government councils where they urged field data collectors and their supervisors to ensure no farmer in any community was left out of the exercise.
The Directorate, during the visit, appealed to chairmen of local government areas to take agricultural investment, especially the enumeration of farmers in their domains as a priority. The team disclosed that agriculture occupies a prime place in the completion agenda of the Udom Emmanuel administration.
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.
By contracting the enumeration exercise to Elkanis and Partners shows the state government is serious and sincere in repositioning the agric sector. Elkanis and Partners, is a company imbued in integrity and hard work. The company’s sole aim is to “build platforms that open new opportunities and create economic sustainability for poor rural smallholder farmers and families by integrating them to broader AgriFood System and connecting them to stakeholders who benefit mutually.”
Elkanis and Partners has won many awards in Akwa Ibom State, South Africa, USA, and UK because of the company’s innovative revolution in AgriTech. Handling such task like farmers enumeration exercise in the state gives much expectations from the masses. Based on antecedent, Akwa Ibomites know and believe, Elkanis would not trade its integrity and reputation for filthy lucre.
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.