Create technology driven agribusiness hubs to stimulate rural economy, reverse rural-urban drift and nourish the urban population.
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
I am Dr Terfa Kene, a public health physician, epidemiologist and human development expert. In the course of working extensively within the North Central region of Nigeria, I came face to face with the challenges of the area as typified by Nasarawa State. The human capital drift to Abuja, the country’s capital city and other urban areas is massive resulting in rapid urbanization with its negative effects, negative impact on food production and the entire food value chain. We are currently piloting a technology driven 15,000 banana stands farm in Doma, one of the rural settlements in Nasarawa State as a public health social enterprise to demonstrate the unique value innovation. I have worked and lived in these communities to understand their health, social and development needs and this drives my passion for harnessing necessary resources to address these needs.
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
Indigenous culture celebration
Indigenous dance for celebration of events
Farin Ruwa Water Falls for tourism
A Nasarawa State indigenous woman cooking food
Climatic graph of Nasarawa State
Seal of Nasarawa State
Map of Nigeria showing Nasarawa State
Nasarawa State located in North Central Nigeria was created in 1996 with head quarters in Lafia and has 13 local governments which are Awe, Akwanga, Doma, Karu, Keana, Keffi, Kokona, Lafia, Nasarawa, Nasarawa-Eggon, Obi, Toto, and Wamba. Nasarawa State is located on Coordinates 8°32′N 8°18′E with Area of 27,117 km^2 and bounded in the north by Kaduna State, in the west by the Federal Capital Territory, in the south by Kogi and Benue States and in the east by Taraba and Plateau States. The State has total population of 1,869,377 by the 2006 Nigeria population census and its proximity to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory has made the peri-urban areas of Karu develop so rapidly. Peasant, subsistence agriculture has remained the mainstay of its economy with the production of varieties of cash crops throughout the year while there several unexplored mineral deposits that earn the state the name “Home of Solid Minerals.” The Human Development Index (HDI) is a statistic composite index of life expectancy, education, and per capita income indicators of countries put Nigeria at 0.550–0.599. The region experiences rainy seasons between April and October while dry season is from November and March. The average annual temperature is 28.4 °C in Nasarawa with minimum of 16.7°C in January and Maximum of 39.7°C in March while the relative humidity, in the dry season, of 20 per cent in the afternoon at higher elevations. About 839 mm of precipitation falls annually with the highest 226mm in Aug and the least being 1mm from December to February. The region has a rich cultural heritage with cultural diversity and main tribe being; Eggon, Alago, Mada, Tiv, Egbira, Jukun, Kanuri, Agatu, Bassa, Gbagyi, Gade, Goemai, Gwandara, Fulani and Gwari and others. There are cultural festivals annually that bring people together for celebration of life and events. Among these festivals are Awuma dance, Sharo, the Gbagyi Gbogum, Ogani Fishing festival and Omadegye annual festival. Farin Ruwa Waterfall, Keana Salt Village and Doma dam are tourist destinations of interest for the State. Total Fertility Rates (TFR) is 5.7 which show a growing population with the rate of urbanization being estimated at 4.3%. The North central region of Nigeria lies within the guinea Savannah region and has tropical climate with moderate rainfall and weather that support several crops production. Nasarawa State exhibits all these characteristics in combination with hills measuring up to 300ft. The people are that are predominantly farmers who produce crops like cassava, yam, rice, maize, sesame seeds, melon guinea corn, ground nuts, beans, soya beans and millet. Fruits like mangos, cashew and banana also do very well in various parts of Nasarawa State. The health status of the people of Nasarawa State is predominantly determined by the status of community food security, income and access to basic health care services.
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
Current Challenge: Poverty, Hunger and Rural-Urban Drift. Background Among the major challenges Africa as a continent faces are; growing poverty, rapidly increasing population and rapid urbanisation with drift of young people from rural communities into rapidly growing cites. Rural urban drift occurs because of the desire to acquire education and employment. This negatively affects the human resource capacity of the small holder farmers in rural communities and at the same time creates food insecurity for the urban cities because of high population and limited land. The United Nations estimate that 86.9 million Nigerians now living in extreme poverty represents nearly 50% of its estimated 180 million populations. With high total fertility rate Nigeria faces a major population boom and will become the world’s third largest country by 2050 if deliberate efforts are not put in place and the poverty issue will worsen with attendance consequence of extreme hunger and poor health indicators. Subsistent agriculture has generally depended on use of locally fabricated tools and out-dated farm practices. Human capital drift to the cities negatively affects the capacity of families to produce enough food for themselves and have enough for income generation. The question our team seek to answer is how the rural communities with vast land can sustainably feed themselves with fewer hands to work and feed the urban dwellers where food is in high demand while addressing the challenge of poverty, hunger and climatic changes? Solution: 1.Promote a new way of thinking within the community respect to primary agricultural production, thus moving away from the “mentality of my farm to that of our farm” such that families jointly own large scale integrated farm projects. 2.Large scale production of agricultural products that have immediate food value for the rural communities and the urban dwellers. 3.Mini-processing of products using alternative energy powered dehydrators. 4.Social enterprise through primary school and school feeding programs to encourage school attendance and quality education at the community level 5.Social enterprise primary health care services with community health insurance Future Challenge: Economic crisis, Famine and Urban up rising. With the current trend of things, if social enterprise interventions are not implemented aggressively there will be economic crisis, famine and urban up rising because of frustrated rural and urban populations. The climatic impact on the agricultural sector will be massive with desert encroachment, distorted rain falls and poor crops yield. Agriculture is a familiar terrain that requires strategic value innovations to harness human capital and carry out basic specific training for purpose programs using modern technology.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
In the last two decades a lot of international partner funds were spent annually in development assistance without significant improvement in health, economic and social indices. Poverty and hunger are interwoven and ending poverty in Nigeria will entail improving the country’s economic productivity through the food value chain and creating opportunities for its citizens. This will mean investing in young people and women, creating financial inclusiveness for the rural communities and appropriate use of technological and value innovation using blue zone strategies. Our technology driven agribusiness hubs will adopt environmentally friendly alternative energy sources to power irrigation-based integrated farming projects. These projects will align with the culturally acceptable diet and staples for consumption and predominantly cultivated cash crops for income generation to stimulate rural economic growth. Our solution will incorporate an online, real time food logistics system which will ensure secured access by the urban populations to fresh foods while mini-processing using dehydrators powered by alternative energy sources will reduce wastage and increase the shelf life of food products. This strategy is in line with the current policy of the Federal Government of Nigeria which has closed it’s borders and placed a ban on importation of food to encourage local production. The young population with agronomy, engineering and other relevant skills will find readily available jobs in the technology driven agribusiness hubs. This will reverse the rural-urban drift and decongest the urban cities. If the nation in general and Nasarawa State focused on creating sustainable livelihood for families at the rural level, we would not only significantly reduce poverty, achieve the zero hunger target and curb rural-urban drift by 2050. This will set the country on a path to creating long-term economic prosperity.
High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.
Economically thriving rural communities with quality health indicators and nourished urban populations with reversed rural-urban drift. The inter connectivity of the rural community with vibrant economy will ensure food sufficiency in the urban settings and stimulate development of all inter-related sectors with the food and agricultural industry.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
Envision that young people with technology and ICT skills return to develop the rural economy via agribusiness hubs
Environment The rural-urban drift is rapidly increasing the urban population with resultant green house foot prints and land use for buildings. Our vision will reverse rural-urban drift by creating jobs for young graduates that will find the technological driven agribusiness hubs a destination for livelihood and growth. The use of alternative energy sources for farming and mini-processing of food and large scale farming will reduce climatic impact. Waste from plants and animals will be processed and re-used as part of the integrated organic farming system and water recycled to ensure minimal environmental pollution. Diets The communities will farm and consume fresh foods, vegetables and fruits that are culturally acceptable and nutritious to maintain quality to health. Economic This strategy will refocus the attention of the growing young population on the technology driven agribusiness as a source of livelihood and the value chain will stimulate economic growth. Farm sizes will increase for families because of mechanization while distributors will use online logistic management to efficiently ensure from farm to fork process for the urban population. Culture As communities become vibrant with education young people return for work as part of the ecosystem, there will be culture renewal and transfer of traditional values to the next generation. Women who work on the farms will showcase cultural delicacies that are unique in each location to the larger audience. Cultural festivals will attract more people with resources to contribute the growth of the communities. Technology Advancement in technology will ensure automated irrigation systems so that food will be produced all year round and processed at site to minimize waste. New business opportunity of online food distribution to families in urban settings will create a market for the fabrication of dehydrators and alternative energy equipment. Policy The current policy of the Federal Government of Nigeria is to increase local production of food to ensure self sufficiency and distribute food as part of the school feeding program to improve children nutrition and encourage school enrollment.