By Bukola Adewumi
The Women Farmers Advancement Network (WOFAN) on Thursday in Abuja said it has trained more than 60 extension workers from 4 states of the federation on how to use drones and other technologies to advance agriculture.
The Executive Director of WOFAN, Hajiya Salamatu Garba, while speaking with journalists, said the 60 extension workers would engage 100 farmers each on modern farm technologies.
Garba said the training also included exposing the farmers and extension workers to insurance facilities to secure their investments.
“We invited 60 extension workers from 4 states of the federation to train them on ICT led technology, in agriculture and specifically we are looking at the use of what we call RiceAdvice.
“RiceAdvice is an application that farmers and the extension workers can use to advise farmers efficiently, to be able to give them adequate information, “she said.
She said that the training included giving adequate information on climate change and weather forecast to the extension workers and farmers.
“We also brought in insurance people so that they will give us the necessary products that they have, that go in line with climate shock.
“Last year, you know that a lot of farmers faced flood issues and some faced drought, so now if any of the farmers unfortunately finds himself in that situation, what will the insurance company do?
“We will partner with them and sign a Memorandum of Understanding, to make sure that farmers meet up with their requirements, and if anything happens, they will also be there to address the situation for the farmers,” she said.
The WOFAN boss said farmers were going to be working in clusters of hundreds because they were encouraged to go into various associations and to get registered.
“That means that we’re going to have large hectares of farms like 1,000 or 2,000 hectares all together and it’s only drones that can give you the information you need within a short period of time.
“What we are doing is to download the RiceAdvice App, for all our extension workers, so it means that for all the farmers that they are working with, each extension worker is going to work with like a hundred farmers.
“We marry technology to it to increase production, like I always say, the size of Nigeria is increasing per day, we used to be 200 million, now we are talking of 230 to 240 million, farm size is reducing, and population is increasing.
“It means we have to look for technology to meet our food demands and to do that is to invest in such services which is going to be the next thing to knock off, non-oil economic production in the country.
“A lot of people are running away from technology support because it is capital intensive. The rice moisture, cost about N120,000, so if you give a cluster, they are able to determine the moisture content of whatever and it has calibration for every crop.
“As for drones, it is not possible to buy such an expensive technology, but we’re having an agreement with the technology companies. That when we put the cluster of farmers together, we can pay for these services together with the farmers contributing stipends,“ she added.