Making presentation during the visit, Engr. Ekanikpong Ben, noted with dismay that besides the increasing poverty rate in the country, over 70 percent of farmers mostly in rural communities lack access to improved agro services, market credit and insurance, even when they have access to arable land, free fresh water and all other resources that would have made them great farmers. He added that most Nigerian farmers were unsuccessful due to ignorance and lack of requisite technology in the agricultural sector.
According to Engr. Ben, El-kanis has come to fill the gap by partnering with Akwa Ibom State Government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Sufficiency to use digital technology in improving the Agricultural Sector in the country and position the sector for optimum productivity using Akwa Ibom State as a pilot State.
‘’We want to work with the Ministry of Agriculture to give us business advisory. Now how will this work? We are going to leverage on the professionals in the Ministry of Agriculture to offer us professional advice. We will also bring on board government extension field workers on the platform to enhance adequate support system for many rural farmers. There are many rural farmers in Akwa Ibom State and our team cannot cover it alone. According to Association of Akwa Ibom farmers, there are over two million farmers in Akwa Ibom State. Taking that serious, with our small team, we cannot meet all those farmers, even 50 percent of them. So, since Ministry of Agriculture has offices spread across the state, alongside its agric extension field workers, we want to use them and reach farmers. We will onboard them by bringing them on our platform and use our interactive voice response to create a link between farmers and extension field workers in their respective Local Government Areas. This will keep all field workers in the ministry busy and consequently bring improvement in the Agricultural sector in the state,’’ he said.
He also informed the Ministry that himself and the Fork, a leading Blockchain for Food technology firm in Netherlands is working on deploying Blockchain technology to address issues of food traceability an food safety in Nigeria. Working also as Business Developer for the Fork (www.thefork.online) Engr Ben informed the house that the Fork will be working with Harvestplus on maize biofortification project in Nigeria. https://www.harvestplus.org/knowledge-market/in-the-news/can-blockchain-bolster-biofortification-value-chains
Other areas of collaboration he proposed were: organizing training for farmers on farming technology, leveraging on state government support to create visibility and validate El Kanis & Partners before the international development agencies possible support for innovation, growth and funding.
Engr. Ben, further highlighted the services offered by El- kanis & Partners to include: crop health analytics for large farms with remote sensing on-board Drone, ( farmx mobile Application ) win-win farmer-community-business solutions, El-kanis mobile switchboard) farmers Local dialect interactive Voice Response(IVR) platform, Agricultural Training and Capacity Building and Research and development for food safety, food security and sustainability.
Engr. Ekanikpong Ben, used the opportunity to inform farmers and intending farmers in the State who wants to learn more about El-kanis & Partners or benefit from the opportunities offered by the company to visit Google Play Store and download Farmx mobile Apps (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.elkeel.farmx) on their smart phones or visit N0. 3 Ekan Crescent, Off Uyo City Polytechnic Road, Uyo, further enquiries. (www.elkanisgroup.com)
Responding, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Sufficiency, Dr. John Markson, said, he was proud of El-kanis & Partners for the digital technological innovation which the company intends to introduce into the Agricultural Sector to improve agriculture in the State and Nigeria at large.
Dr. Markson, specifically expressed delight for the ingenuity of Engr. Ekanikpong Ben, and promised that the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Sufficiency will propose to the state government to take advantage of the opportunity by partnering with El-kanis to bring in digital technology to improve the Agricultural Sector in the State.
The directors in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Sufficiency who flanked the Permanent Secretary and witnessed the presentation all lauded the initiative. Among the directors were: Dr. Emmanuel Iton, Mr Edet Udokah, Mr Aniefiok Isong, Mr Solomon Joe and Mr Essien Uwen Bassey