Experts from universities, agricultural research institutes, international research centres and the private sector across Africa have converged on Ibadan to discuss the current state and future of precision agriculture in the continent.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the three-day event, which started on Tuesday, was tagged “First African Conference on Precision Agriculture (AFCPA).
NAN also reports that the programme was organised by African Plant Nutrition Institute (APNI), Morocco, in collaboration with International Society of Precision Agriculture (ISPA), USA and Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Ibadan.
The programme was also organised in collaboration with 14 institutions from 14 countries in Africa, including Morocco, Burkina Faso, Cote D’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Declaring the event open, the IAR&T Executive Director, Prof. Veronica Obatolu, said that Africa was living in a demanding and changing time when agricultural research was facing myriads of complex challenges, with profound implications on productivity.
According to her, the challenges are interlinked and can only be tackled by deliberate partnership and team work at all levels.
She, however, said that the challenges could be tackled through a new paradigm shift called integrated agricultural research for development.
Obatolu said that IAR&T had focused on fostering collaboration among agricultural stakeholders as well as connecting farmers to robust agricultural services, knowledge and the resources needed for their prosperity.
“I believe that the first AFCPA will result in significant milestones in the 14 institutions and mark the beginning of research alignment within Sub-Saharan Africa.
“I hope it will meet the ambitious goal of the agricultural value chain relating to SDGs for improved nutrition and livelihoods of Africans,” she said.
In his keynote address, the Director-General of Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) Dr Yemi Akinbamijo, noted that precision agriculture represented a sustainable approach to addressing food security.
Akinbamijo, who spoke virtually, noted that investment in research, development and energy was paramount in making precision agriculture work and improving agricultural productivity in the continent.
He said that FARA had been working on alternate energy and other sustainable approaches to drive precision agriculture in the continent.
Also speaking, Dr Catherine Nakalembe from University of Maryland, said that Africa was getting farther from achieving the SDG-2 due to climate change and market strategies.
According to her, weather and climate impacts are likely to worsen, as climate change progresses.
She stated that satellites were critical tools in monitoring precision agriculture.
Earlier, the Conference Site Host, Nigeria, Dr Vincent Aduramigba-Modupe, said that the programme was being held in 14 African countries simultaneously.
Aduramigba-Modupe said that the mission was to connect the science and practice needed to put precision into agriculture as a management strategy that took cognisance of temporal and spatial variability.
“Through this mission, AFCPA seeks to provide a pan-African platform focusing on highlighting new advances in the fields of experimental and applied precision agriculture,” he said. (NAN)