By Itohan Abara-Laserian
Participants at a conference on “Optimising the Nigerian Agricultural Value Chain Through Innovation”, have said that only deepening technological innovation would drive agricultural productivity, improve food sustainability and safety.
The conference was organised by the Network of Entrepreneurial Women (NNEW), an arm of the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) on Thursday in Lagos.
Mr Kolawole Adeniji, the Chief Executive Officer, Niji Group and the keynote speaker, said that innovation was instrumental to new ideas and processes that would drive commercialised agriculture.
Adeniji, who said that technological innovation would improve workplace performance, added that there was the need to reduce drudgery in the sector.
“Agriculture shares a dominant portion of the world economy, contributing 29 per cent and 2.4 trillion dollars, while value addition has been the major driver of this market.
“Innovation is a useful change that gives birth to new ideas, products or methods and processes; every action and creativity in the value chain exists as a result of successful innovation without which very little can be delivered,” he said.
According to him, agro processing and effective storage are the tools to commercialise and develop the sector, to ensure food safety, security and sufficiency for the growing population.
He said that Nigerian farmers were poor because they did not undertake researches on cost of production and how much they intend to realise from their produce.
Adeniji said that innovation would help farmers reduce overhead costs, reduce manpower and maximise profits.
Also, the National President of NNEW, Mrs Modupe Oyekunle, said that innovation was important in any business development, otherwise, such a business would fold-up.
“Innovation will bring new things and methods into whatever you are doing to make meaningful impact economically.
“Women face social and economic challenges in business which limit the level of development and success they attain,” she said.
Oyekunle described women as intelligent, dogged and designed to undertake several activities at a time; and were mostly successful doing so.
She urged women in the agribusiness section of NNEW to be purposeful, determined and network as much as possible.
Mrs Monica Umoh, the Chairman of the Lagos NNEW Agribusiness Sector, said the conference was organised to keep women abreast of innovations in the sector.
Umoh said that there was the need to encourage women to embrace new technologies that would bring about optimum profits in the agribusiness space.
She urged participants to be open to the real time lectures and hoped to see changes in their chosen fields afterwards.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Toyin Suarau, said that women played significant roles in the agriculture space, and they should be recognised.
Suarau said that the state would support any group of women in agribusiness for sustainability and food security developments.
The commissioner, represented at the occasion by Mrs Abiola Ayoade, Director of Agricultural Services, said that empowerment was one of the three core areas of emphasis in the state.
Mrs Sarah Odende, an agribusiness communications specialist, said that farmers were limited because of the little or no information available to them.