Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that Africa must embrace innovative technology for it to be self-sufficient in food production. Osinbajo stated this on Saturday in his virtual keynote address at the Stanford Africa Business Forum themed: African Innovation Shaping the Global Future.
The Vice President noted that the continent’s agricultural production was well below her potential despite having 25 per cent of the world’s arable land of which 50% remained uncultivated. “If care is not taken, the continent will continue to have an unsustainable dependence on food aid and increasing food insecurity,”
he warned. Osinbajo maintained that innovation must come to the rescue adding that there were many takers, filling the gaps in many parts of the agricultural value chain.
“There is a start-up called Kubeko from Côte d’Ivoire in West Africa, which produces low-cost equipment that is able to process bio waste into organic fertiliser.
At a time when global oil and gas prices are at record highs, this sort of innovation will help to reduce the cost of producing food while reducing post-harvest losses.
There are also quite a few fast-growing technology- driven agricultural companies.
Thrive Agric for example, which recently secured $56.4 million in debt funding from commercial banks and institutional investors, links African farmers to capital, data-driven best practices, and local and global markets for their commodities.”
The Vice President also identified access to credit, especially for small farmers and informal traders, as another challenge calling for innovation.
Osinbajo recalled that the Federal Government through the Bank of Industry introduced a digital micro-credit for 10 million informal traders in 2016 which proved to be successful. According to him, the scheme has led to the commissioning of its Growth Platform, which engaged 22,000 agents, living across Nigeria.
“Each agent is equipped with the platform’s proprietary mobile technologies, they receive mandates to capture and digitize businesses eligible for its growing suite of microcredit programmes,” he explained.
He added that the challenge of climate change continued to pose serious risks for Africa, raising the fears that this could hamper her post-COVID recovery and cause 86 million Africans to migrate within their own countries by 2050.
Osinbajo noted the energy deficit in the continent counselling that Africa must find a pathway to improving energy access considered vital for her economic development while making its own contribution to tackling climate change.