Let's discuss the trend of the agricultural start-up in Nigeria. It is quite impressive in recent times in Nigeria where there have been drastic change in Agricultural policies in Nigeria and the number of creative young people moving into agriculture, which have change the narratives among several youth that agriculture is mainly for the poor people, which should not in any way appeal to young people, in the past this notion was terrifying and have the put potentials of Nigeria agriculture in the drains, however with what is happening in agriculture and sound policies from government to make agriculture more attractive and profitable, it’s going to be good time investing in agriculture in Nigeria.
The youth have brought so much energy, drift and innovation to agriculture which has made a path for food security in the country. Agritech has been of the driving force for agricultural innovations in Nigeria, as a high number of Nigeria farmers are smallholder farmers, most of them cannot go into massive agricultural farming because of lack of funding, it has limited the productivity of the country, and this has led to importation of food, largely Nigerians do not grow what they eat, they import virtually everything being consumed, which has led to Nigerians having an excellent taste for foreign-based product, they tend to despise anything that is locally produced and deem it as inferior product, the poor people are not left out in this sad Food situations.
However, we can go on and discuss the problem agriculture is facing in Nigeria, and we can discuss what lead to the problem, who is the problem and who should be blamed for the scary situations. But this is not what this write-up aims to achieve, and I am not interested in discussing this, I am only interested in solutions, what we are going to do, what is being done, how to improve, and what needs to be done; that is what should be discussed, it is in the nature of most Nigeria to whine and discuss problems rather than profer solution, but for any Nation to progress, they must be interested in answers to the myriad of challenges they are facing.
One of the solutions which are driving growth in Agriculture in Nigeria is the use of Crowdfunding/farming platform which is creating more avenue for people to come and invest in agriculture without physically getting involved in it, all they have to do is invest their money in any farm of their choice and at the end of the farming season, they are paid both the investor and the farmer. The main goal of this system is to bring agriculture closer to the people and also make them recognise that they can be a farmer without actually owning a farm, that they can help to solve food security without having a fundamental knowledge of farming techniques, that they can help feed the nation without going to the farm.
However, in as much as this solution is helping to bridge the gap between farmers and investor, it is a relatively new system in Nigeria, but the exciting thing is Nigerians are embracing it because it put food on their table, it allows farm sponsor to earn extra income in agriculture.
But the new trend should focus on the need for Nigerians to see agriculture as a viable investment opportunity rather than invest, cashout and never return, which is mostly not going to last, there is need to build a more sustainable system where investors will pull resources to make a large scale farming where there won't be a situation in which after eight-month the investor will cash out or pull out of the system, if it should continue this way, achieving food security, availability and affordability will be a mirage, there is need for more fireworks among young Nigerians, and this is what Bebo Nigeria (which I own) is doing, where weight will be mounted to restore peoples confidence in Investing in farming.
On another note, agriculture is taking new shape in Nigeria there is need for regulations by government on crowdfunding platforms, people are sceptical on viability and security of their funds apart from insurance companies that these crowdfunding platforms boost of which does not guarantee full capital returns, there is need for government to put regulations in place before fraudster leverage on this new trend to start reaping people off their life savings.
As agriculture is taking new and well-defined shape in Nigeria, there is need for serious and consistent generation of data for farmers and investors alike, farming in Nigeria should be data-driven, this will enhance the productivity of farmers, for example, real-time data on weather forecast, soil sensors will help to manage the growth of crop, this data should also be available to farmers and investors for them to do proper planning.
There are Start-Ups like Zenvus a Nigeria farming start-up which measures and analyses soil data, and there are also other start-up company like ujuzikilimo, which uses big data to improve productivity in agriculture. Making use of data effectively will change agriculture in Nigeria, there is a good prospect for agric business in Nigeria with the use of data to drive growth and investment decisions by investors.
The youth have been impressive in their input and innovation in agriculture which is a good sign of for what is coming, building apps alone won't solve unemployment in Nigeria, there is need for concerted effort to channel their energy into making a better effort in making real integration into agriculture.
The future looks bright for Agriculture in Nigeria and its drive to feeds itself, the government must also make legislation to protect this start-up and not legislations to destroy them.