Like most business delegates at this year’s EIMA International 2022, Agrovat Chief Executive Officer Nkemjika Jude Okeke gained knowledge and connected with firms that can provide innovative agriculture technologies to farmers in his home country, Nigeria. Coming from Africa, Okeke was also availed an opportunity to network with Agriculture sector professionals from across the world and gain valuable insights on how Africa can improve its agriculture business.
According to Okeke, some of the implements manufacturers were able to showcase advanced technologies that are important for the modernisation of agricultural practices . Furthermore, Okeke and other African business delegates were also able to sit in meetings and look for areas of common concern to facilitate greater trade for the Nigerian small holder farmers. Although, he was expecting to see more innovations especially in the area of crop development and hybrid seeds formation, his general expectations were met.
“The B2B meeting were one of the important parts of the EIMA exhibitions. It offered us an opportunity to sit down with the manufacturers and highlight some of the core issues they had previously faced with the adoption of their implements in Africa. We held fruitful discussions around developing technologies suited for our climatic conditions and soil structure. We also highlighted the expensive nature of their implements and how farmers in Nigeria might find it difficult to purchase them. At the end of deliberations, we were able to come to a common ground for farm data exchange in terms of soil composition, farming practices, climatic conditions etc. to enable these companies design implements that are conditioned for our use,” said Okeke.
However, one of the biggest challenges Okeke noticed was the lack of adequate farming data across Africa. He shared, “A comprehensive database that contains key information on major activities across the agriculture value chain is lacking. For example, how many metric tonnes of maize does an average farmer harvest in a year in Nigeria. How many bags of fertilizer does he use in a planting season? What is his annual margin on production. Coincidentally, we (Agrovat Nigeria) are building this database as we strongly believe it is key to highlighting Africa’s food production problems and solving them. A key learning for me at this exhibition was the level of government intervention in agriculture in European countries. Unfortunately, Nigeria has allocated less than 2% of budgetary spending on agriculture in the last year.”
Therefore, Okeke believes EIMA comes in as a huge liaison agent for the Agri business opportunities in the African space. The connections to almost all the major tractor companies across Italy provides Africans with a larger source of mechanisation contacts that they can have access to when they need these implements. This improves their choices and affords them the opportunity to develop their agriculture within the quality threshold expected.
In concluding, Okeke said, “Africa needs to do more in its agriculture development. We have a duty to increase our individual output. This would boost the economy and provide more finances for government to invest in agriculture. Commercial financial institutions in Africa need to create innovative lending schemes to assist farmers for short-term borrowing to access inputs like fertilizers etc. When there is a synergy between technology, inputs, finance and the farmer, it would be a good fit for Africa’s development not just in agriculture but in the macroeconomy.”