Opinion poll: Advancement in technology or easy access to loan which is the game changer in Nigeria agriculture?

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Opinion poll: Advancement in technology or easy access to loan which is the game changer in Nigeria agriculture?

There is an ever increasing need to invest in agriculture due to a drastic rise in global population and changing dietary preferences of the growing middle class in emerging markets towards higher value agricultural products. In addition, climate risks increase the need for investments to make agriculture more resilient to such risks. Estimates suggest that demand for food will increase by 70% by 2050 and at least $80 billion annual investments will be needed to meet this demand, most of which needs to come from the private sector. Financial sector institutions in developing countries lend a disproportionately lower share of their loan portfolios to agriculture compared to agriculture sector’s share of GDP. Unfortunately, we were thrown into a state of dilemma In  such investments, investing to facilitate easy access to loan or advancement in technology, and which is the game changer in Nigeria agriculture? Of course, they take an equal position with similtude of importance pending on individual ideologies, perception and circumstances.

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 A quick panorama will unleash various governmental and non governmental bodies that focus on developing and implementing agriculture finance strategies and instruments to crowd-in private sector, enhancing access to suitable financial services to farmers – particularly smallholders – and agricultural Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as a way to increase agricultural productivity and income, and facilitating the consolidation and integration of production and marketing entities in agriculture to achieve economies of scale and stronger presence in markets.
In a similar manner, if  you’re in the farming industry, you know that costs associated with starting up a farming business or running an existing one can be steep. Agriculture loans are geared toward helping farmers make the leap into the world of farming, or taking their existing farm to the next level.  Therefore, quick access to loan facility could be a stepping stone to an advancement in technology and as such, becomes a necessity. Then, if the two is coupled and used wisely, then you are  on your way to a prosperous farming future.
Moreover, You can’t run a farm without specialized equipment. From tractors to irrigation systems to silos, your business is only as good as the equipment you use. High-quality, reliable equipment lasts longer and will make your job easier, but it comes with a hefty price tag. If there is no enough capital available- as it is in most cases- then lease or procurement of such sophisticated machinaries could be a herculean task. Wouldn’t it?

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If you’re just starting out in the agriculture business, you may significantly underestimate the price of specialized equipment probably due to low capital at hand and effective technical know how of the use, but its  a way ahead to a better agriculture and could be a game changer to the Nigerian agricultural system. On the contrary it is paramount to, before you over (or under) commit to any investment, thoroughly research the costs and options for the equipment you’re going to need and make sure it fits into your business plan. Itemize the cost of each piece of equipment, including operating costs (like gas) and maintenance and repair costs – you can’t fix a tractor tire with baling twine! Consider consulting with other people that have experience in the industry to get their insight on what kind of equipment you’ll need, what you can expect to pay for it, and what it costs to run and maintain. And by that,the bridge between the cost and the equipment has been checked.

If you’ve been in the business for a while, you may already have a good sense of what you need. However, you still need to price out every piece of equipment you plan to buy in other to regulate the loan accessible. You can also evaluate the equipment you already have – it may be cheaper to repair some things than to replace them, depending on the cost and the expected lifespan of the equipment.
Overall, the provision of technical assistance in handling equipment will also help to build capability to assess agricultural risk and to develop and distribute agricultural friendly products.

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“Agriculture can bridge the gap between the acceptance of innovation that is a part of consumers’ everyday lives with the technology – and the insights it delivers – being used daily on today’s farms and ranches,” said Krotz, .“Today’s SMART farms use data and technology to become faster, more efficient, more nimble, more equipped to protect our planet’s resources while still growing and producing the world’s very best food supply. That’s the very definition of continual improvement or sustainability.” This could be made a reality if only there is an easy access to loan facility. For loan users and borrower, such assistance will help to build their capability to better access loans and increase capacity to improve productivity.

Finally, Investment in AgTech continues to rise with AgTech companies taking in more than $1.75 billion during the first half of 2016. Today’s farms and ranches are using a heady mix of data, math, hardware and software, sensors and analysis to go beyond what the eye can see. For instance,technology like multispectral analysis lets a farmer see which crops are doing well by looking at how the plants absorb or reflect different wavelengths of sunlight. This clearly demonstrates a proportionate increase in loan use with a corresponding advancement in technology.

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You can join the conversation on the ongoing debate contest by the National Association of Agriculture students (NAAS)by putting down your opinion the comment box below.

Written by: Al-Mustapha Ibrahim I
University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria.
Edited by: Campus Agriculture Network Editorial Board.

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