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Dr. Olowolafe Unveils Ekiti State University’s 1 Billion Naira Agri-Tech Innovation Fund

Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria – Ekiti State University fired a bold salvo in addressing Nigeria’s food insecurity challenges as its new Chancellor Dr. Tunji Olowolafe unveiled a groundbreaking 1 billion naira innovation fund.

In a convocation address brimming with ambitious initiatives, Dr. Olowolafe laid out a vision to transform the 40-year-old institution into an entrepreneurial engine powering sustainable agricultural development.

“Agriculture stands as the backbone of our nation, and it is here that I see the greatest potential for innovation and economic prosperity,” the Chancellor declared to faculty, guests and thousands of graduating students.

The new 1 billion naira fund will provide vital seed capital for university students and alumni to pioneer novel agro-technology ventures tackling production hurdles, supply chain inefficiencies and critically – boosting crop yields.

With over 60% of Nigerians employed in agriculture, yet domestic food inflation raging above 24%, the imperative to catalyze grassroots innovation addressing sector challenges has never been more acute.

While the fund’s establishment captured headlines, Dr. Olowolafe’s convocation roadmap spanned reinvigorating the academic body through subsidized international training to radically rethinking the university’s curricula and infrastructure itself.

In a first for any Nigerian university, the Chancellor proposed a radical model where students can lease and cultivate produce on fertile campus lands, simultaneously earning entrepreneurship credentials alongside academic degrees.

“As we groom academic excellence, let’s also nurture agri-entrepreneurs, celebrating both scholar and plough-holder,” Dr. Olowolafe exhorted, drawing rousing applause.

The integrated vision aims to transform Ekiti into a holistic hub for pioneering research, nurturing startups and developing human capitalfw-ready to catalyze a modernized, technology-driven agricultural sector.

“Our approach addresses two pain points – creating alternative economic opportunities for youth while boosting domestic food production capacities,” said Dr. Tunde Oluwole, Ekiti’s business incubator lead.

For entrepreneurial graduates exploring unconventional paths or simply following their passions, seed funding remains a perennial roadblock blighting startup growth across Africa.

“This billion naira fund solves a critical limitation, while demonstrating agriculture’s vast innovation potential,” Dr. Oluwole added.

From intelligent farming solutions deploying AI and drones to digitizing transport networks and storage – the possibilities are vast for agri-tech innovators to disrupt long-stagnant value chains plagued by inefficiencies.

With an estimated $3 billion in annual investments required to modernize infrastructure, unlocking such private capital and grassroots ingenuity could be a game-changer in futureproofing Nigeria’s food systems.

Agriculture remains the economic bedrock for Africa’s most populous nation. But the sector’s technological renaissance has lagged amid dilapidated infrastructure, lack of financing and brain drain.

By harnessing its alumni’s entrepreneurial dynamism through an innovative fund, Ekiti State University has catalyzed the forces aiming to reinvent that critical narrative.

As Dr. Olowolafe summarized: “What is the point of learning if we don’t apply our thoughts?” Nigeria’s agri-tech revolution just received its latest skilled propagators and seed capital.

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