Connect with us


Food security: Kwara Govt seeks empowerment of women with AI – official



The Kwara State Government says it has identified women as veritable hands to handle Artificial Intelligence (AI) to achieve food security and alleviate poverty in the state.

Dr Muritala Sambo, Special Adviser Legal Affairs to the Executive Governor of Kwara State said this at an event on the sideline of the ongoing 68 session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68) in New York.

The event was organised by the Governments of Nigeria, the U.S., Morocco, Equatorial Guinea, Zambia, and the Kwara state in collaboration with UN ITU, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, the United Nations Committee, and Renew Our Earth Inc.

Sambo, who is the Secretary of Human Rights and Rule of Law Committee of the African Bar Association, spoke as a panelist at a session on “Men at the table” on How we can take advantage presented by AI to support small-scale farmers and eradicate poverty, enhance rural development, and improve food security.

The session was moderated by the Chairman of Human Rights and Rule of Law Committee of African Bar Association and the President Renew Our Earth., Dr. Ugoji Eze Esq.,

According to him, the present administration in Kwara State, Nigeria under the leadership of Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrazak, the executive Governor has identified the insecurity in food availability as an area that requires urgent attention.

“Therefore, the introduction of a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) initiative with the Chinese and France governments to ensure food security and economic sustainability in the state.‘’

Sambo, who spoke to the audience from Nigeria via phone said the State Government had equally prioritised the active involvement of women in the running of the state affairs.

“At present, 50 per cent of the state cabinet members are women surpassing the formulated 35 per cent Affirmative Action of women involvement in all governance processes, which is a national gender policy of 2006 in Nigeria.

“The state government can equally identify that women with their softer skills has a veritable hands to handle AI processes to ensure the predicted result when he appointed women as Commissioner of Agriculture, Finance, Education and Human Capital Development among other important portfolio in his cabinet.

“The Kwara state provides avenue for women and young adults enterprises to thrive and be profitable. Also are opportunity of human resources and social capital in the state that can leverage on the IoT- and AI-driven technologies to enhance food security and alleviate poverty.’’

The Governor’s aide, however, called for partnership with relevant stakeholders on the application of AI to boost food security in Kwara State.

“We are very open to knowledge sharing, skill transfer, equipment and capacity building support towards achieving the application of IoT- and AI-driven technologies into the agricultural sub-sector of our economy to achieve the desired food security goal of the present administration.’’

He said that involvement of women in agriculture spanned the crop and livestock systems to management of mixed agricultural operations at subsistence and commercial levels.

“The outcome of a 2019 survey showed that 87 per cent of rural household dwellers in Nigeria practiced crop farming activities. Similarly, 56 per cent of this population raise one form of livestock or the other and crop farming was practiced by about 70 per cent of Nigerian households.

“These activities have generally been practiced by farmers in Nigeria and the oldens have always found the process burdensome and most especially on the women and youth.

“How then, can we take advantage of the opportunities presented by Artificial Intelligence (AI) to support small scale farmers in the rural areas and alleviate poverty to enhance rural development and improve food security?

According to him, Artificial Intelligence in agriculture initially looked like a scientific fiction or mirage, until recently the reality of AI as applied to agriculture tends to enhance global food security with ease.

He said that the AI technology aids in predicting weather and other agricultural conditions such as land quality, groundwater, crop cycle, and plant disease detection, all of which are critical issues.

“Crop health monitoring is made possible through soil and plant sensors and multispectral photos from satellites or drones. Precision farming is another advantage that AI provides.

“This system ensures precisions in crop production without wastage, boost economy to ensure self-reliance, illuminate rural areas with scientific innovations and empowering small-scale farmers.

“Also, AI farming tends to enhance surplus food production to address food security and prevailing global hunger: particularly in most African countries.

“Now that neither the manual nor the mechanised agricultural food production can solve the lingering hunger in Africa with the envisaged 10 billion predictions of global population come 2050, thus the AI innovation option is the only necessary way to follow.“

Sambo further spoke on a German-based technology start-up PEAT, which had developed “PLANTIX“ an AI-based application that identifies nutrient deficiencies in soils and the seeds through image recognition-based technology.

“The technology is adoptable to diagnose through the mobile application use of image or short video.

A SkySqurrel Technologies has invented drone-based Ariel imaging solution for monitoring crop health.

“The algorithms analyze the captured image gathered from the plantation to identify condition of crops and required solutions.’’

In addition, he said that Farmers without connectivity can get AI benefits right now, with tools as simple as an SMS-enabled phone and the Sowing App while farmers with Wi-Fi access can use AI applications to get a continually AI-customized plan for their lands.

“With such IoT- and AI-driven solutions, farmers can meet the world’s needs for increased food sustainably growing production and revenues without depleting precious natural resources.

“These are complimented by the automated farm machinery like driverless tractors, smart irrigation fertilization systems, IoT-powered agricultural drones, smart spraying, vertical farming software and AI-based greenhouse robots for harvesting.

“Compared with any human farm worker, AI-driven tools are far more efficient and accurate.

“It is pertinent to state categorically that Artificial Intelligence can effectively be utilized for crops production processes from suitability of soil, sowing of seeds, fertilisation and fertigation, irrigation, weed management, harvest, postharvest handlings and storage.’’

Other panelists, Mr. Thabo Steven Kawana, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Media, Zambia, and Mr. Rajiv Jadhav, CEO of Rsquare Media, expressed that with the application of AI, food security would be achieved in Africa.

The Theme of the event is“ Empowering Women to Use the Potential of Artificial Intelligence for Achieving Food Security and Alleviating Poverty”.

CSW, which holds annually, is the largest global gathering of civil society representatives, government officials, policy makers and experts.

It takes stock of progress on gender equality, discusses pressing issues and agrees on actions to transform the lives of women and girls everywhere.

It consists of a wide range of meetings, panel discussions, interactive dialogues, ministerial round tables, intergovernmental negotiations and more.

The 68th session, which opened on March 11 ends March 22.

Cecilia Ologunagba

NEWSVERGE, published by The Verge Communications is an online community of international news portal and social advocates dedicated to bringing you commentaries, features, news reports from a Nigerian-African perspective. A unique organization, founded in the spirit of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, comprising of ordinary people with an overriding commitment to seeking the truth and publishing it without fear or favour. The Verge Communications is fully registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a corporate organization.



Shell Digital Plan RESPONSIVE600x750
Shell Digital Plan RESPONSIVE600x750