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By Chukwuka Ugokwe :

Participants at a two day farmers summit/international conference on agriculture have called on governments and stakeholders in the sector to deploy new technologies leveraging on the development of organic farming to boost food security in the nation.

Professionals in the sector comprising of practitioners,scholars and policy makers drawn from across the nation and beyond made this  call during the conference organised by the Faculty of Agriculture, Nnamdi Azikiwe University,Awka at the Institution’s Auditorium.

Declaring Open the conference with the theme”Digitalisation of Agriculture and Bio-conservation for food security” the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Charles Esimone,  described the theme of the conference as apt considering the era of digital switch and it’s relevance in enhancing agricultural practice and food supply which is very pivotal to sustaining economic growth and development of the nation.

Prof. Esimone who was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration), Prof. Joseph Ikechebelu, , assured the Faculty of the continuous support of the present administration at a time where every citizen of the nation ought to join the practice of agriculture either by food production or animal husbandry. 

The scholar stated that now the Faculty is about completing her movement to its permanent site based at Ifite-Ogwari and Umueje, the University community is eagerly awaiting the advent of the Farmer’s Market which will lead to revenue generation for the institution and supply of farm produce to the University Community and beyond.

In her address, the Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, Prof. Cordelia Ebenebe informed that the International Conference is aimed at relating with practitioners in the same trade at the global parlance, to learn from their achievements and strategies designed to surmount challenges.

 Prof. Ebenebe disclosed that it was on this note that the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) engaged not just erudite personalities in the field of agriculture but also real farmers with the wealth of experience in the sector.

In his Keynote Speech, a Former Director, Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) Ghana, Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo harped on the essence of big data science and applications of digital trends to produce food.

Underscoring the importance of smart farming in the areas of irrigation, livestock farming,crop growth model,robotics and equipment automation,he made a strong case for use of lots of scientific and mechanical innovations to make farming more sustainable.

On his part, Anambra State Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon. Dr. Foster Ihejiofor,who received  an award of recognition during the event, described the event as apt and designed to proffer solution to food crisis facing the nation.

He stated that all hands must be on deck in the practice of agriculture to make profitable and sustainable as it is a way of feeding the nation, creating of jobs and generating wealth.

Dr. Ihejiofor emphasized that the Gov. Soludo’s administration is using agriculture to provide opportunities and jobs for the youths of the state with technology driven ways to enhance their skills and competence.

The Agric. Commissioner informed that the state have gone into Oil Palm and Coconut tree planting by distribution and cultivation of seedlings which in the nearest future will generate funds for the state.

The lead paper presenter and Director, Songhai Integrated Farm, Port Novo, Republic of Benin, Rev. Fr. Prof. Godfrey Nzamujo presented a paper titled, “The Challenges today in Harnessing and Deploying Digital Technology to leverage Regenerative Agriculture,”  

He stated that the challenges facing the sector is on how to use agro-ecological and climate-smart principles and practices to turn our present food and agricultural system into a resilient, regenerative, high productive and sustainable system.

Prof. Nzamujo averred that agricultural initiative at Songhai Integrated Farm is based on the conviction that the present situation requires a radical change in our agricultural system to enable people to develop the awareness and capacities commensurate with the dynamics of biological systems and our environmental capital.

The scholar also highlighted that Green Economy of tomorrow termed Agro-economy should be based on tripod comprising of the living (Biological Sciences), Decentralized Renewal Energy and Digital Technologies.

While calling for new technologies adaptable in organic agriculture production,he showcased how he was privileged to witness new technologies deployed in both livestock and crop production in Songhai.

 He commended the Faculty of Agriculture for the initiative behind the all important conference geared towards enhancing the Agricultural sector.

On her part, the Chairperson, FAIC Organizing Committee, Dr. Eucharia Obidiebube noted that the conference provided a platform for discussion on the modern trends in agriculture and also a way to encourage the youths to embrace agriculture as a means of wealth creation.

The scholar disclosed that the Committee invited Prof. Nzamujo as one of the lead paper presenter to share in his wealth of knowledge and as well explore the Songhai Integrated Farm as the institution plans to establish a Pilot Farm with a view to having institutionalized based Songhai Farm.

Other scholars who spoke at the conference were Prof. Shadrach Olufemi Akindele, Vice-Chancellor of Redeemer’s University of Nigeria and Prof. Rotimi Akuko, Director Canada Research Chair Richardson Centre for Food Technology and Research.

The opening ceremony of the conference also featured Farmers’ Summit, Conferment of Awards and Recognition of students of the Faculty for their academic excellence.


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