On Thursday, August 29, 2019, Nigeria’s agricultural sector leaped one purposeful step forward with the formal inauguration of her National agCelerant Technical Committee, in the first official endorsement, at a country level, of the transformative potential of phygital agriculture. Manobi Africa PLC, a pioneer in innovative risk control and value chain orchestration, created this approach which combines physically based and digitally driven solutions to secure, in contractual smallholder agriculture, the global sustainability, transparency and honourable sourcing of tomorrow’s food stocks.
Presided over by the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Alhaji Mohammed Sabo Nanono, in the presence of Minister of State, Alhaji Mustapha Baba Shehuri, Senior Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on Economic Matters, Dr. Effiong Essien, representatives from the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), and numerous Nigerian institutions involved in agricultural development and financing, the inauguration marks an important milestone in a successful public-private engagement process started in November 2017.
Daniel Annerose, CEO, Manobi Africa PLC explained that “agCelerant (www.agcelerant.com) is an advanced value chain orchestration and business development ecosystem connecting smallholders with credit, insurance, input and output markets and accompanying all value chain stakeholders with (i) agricultural investment risk mapping, to reduce lenders cash-out and increase availability of credit to smallholders, (ii) more robust, affordable insurance contracts to reduce persistent climate risk in intensifying crop-livestock systems and (iii) improved management of crop nutrient deficiencies to increase fertilizer use efficiency and agricultural productivity. It offers breakthrough capabilities inside the last mile, leveraged by IoT(1), Earth Observation, AI(2) and powered by youth franchisees who can proximally and economically monitor and advise every single smallholder field under contract.”
Speaking on behalf of the Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Karima Babangida, Director, Agricultural Extension exposed in no uncertain terms the unsustainability of runaway food imports and unstructured national value chains, against the expected doubling of Nigeria’s population by 2050.
With agCelerant specifically designed to leverage existing public and private efforts, just like an accelerant speeds up a chemical process, Mrs. Babangida highlighted “FMARD’s favourable disposition towards the deployment of agCelerant as part of investments in Nigerian agriculture such as the Kano State Agro-pastoral Development Project (KSADP)”. Mrs. Babangida further stated that “this will constitute a key steppingstone towards the piloting of agCelerant solutions as vehicles for the implementation and performance assessment of phygital approaches into the current and planned projects of FMARD(3)”.
Planning for the deployment of agCelerant with 15 million Nigerian smallholders, and organizing commensurate resourcing including the US$ 7.5 Bn annual financing required for them to perform sustainably, the national technical committee reviewed existing initiatives and programs available for leveraging by agCelerant. A first road mapping and priority setting exercise identified rice as the preferred value chain for early implementation, followed by tomato, livestock, sorghum and other commodities.
Coincidentally, earlier in the day the Honourable Minister hinted that “we should totally ban any kind of importation of rice in this country” and pledged that he “would support anything that supports the average farmer”. Conditions could not be more favourable to trigger a giant leap forward, as Pierre Sibiry Traore, agCelerant R&D Director explained: “agCelerant is all about accelerating profitable, inclusive investments in agriculture. If the policy environment protects the structuration of efficient smallholder value chains, key conditions are met to transform African agriculture. Nigeria immediately embraced the approach with strong political and operational support, and we look forward to successfully completing a first round of 1,000,000 smallholder loans recovery within the first year of implementation”.
The National agCelerant Technical Committee is composed of the Permanent Secretary Office of the FMARD (chair), the Federal Department of Agricultural Extension, the Federal Department of Agriculture, FMARD’s Planning of Policy Coordination and Program Coordinating Unit, the National Agricultural Extension Research and Liaison Services, the Bank of Agriculture, the Nigeria Agricultural Insurance Corporation, the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing system for Agricultural Lending, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan Implementation Unit, ICRISAT and Manobi Africa PLC.
The technical development of agCelerant solutions is facilitated by ICRISAT, by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security and by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 776309 (NADiRA – Nurturing Africa’s Digital Revolution for Agriculture).
(2) Artificial Intelligence
(3) Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
FMARD: Bamidele Olorunfemi, email@example.com
Manobi Africa: Pierre Sibiry Traore, firstname.lastname@example.org
ICRISAT: Hakeem A. Ajeigbe, email@example.com
Photo caption (left to right): M. Mahamane (Islamic Devpt. Bank), I. Alamba (Bank of Agriculture), E. Essien (Presidency of Nigeria), A. Ibrahim (NIRSAL), M.K. Othman (NAERLS), Hon. M.B. Shehuri (Minister of State, Agriculture and Rural Development), Hon. M.S. Nanono (Federal Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development), D. Annerose (Manobi Africa), K.I. Babangida (FMARD), U. Garba (KNARDA), P.S. Traore (Manobi Africa / ICRISAT), H.A. Ajeigbe (ICRISAT), B.B. Godobe (FMARD), B. Olorunfemi (FMARD).