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AgricTech driving food security across Nigeria


Many great developments in the area of infrastructure, healthcare, food production and consumption, fashion, commuting, hospitality among others, ride on the back of technology.

One man who believes technology can indeed be used to the benefits of mankind is Dr. Benoy Berry, Chairman, Contec Global Group, a leading security technology company with subsidiaries that cut across critical sectors like information technology, agriculture, energy, oil and gas, hospitality, among others.

Contec Global Group, which started as a family business, has grown into a conglomerate that is providing technology-driven solutions to not less than 50 per cent of Africa’s population, while also stamping its presence in America, Asia and Europe.

One of Contec’s subsidiary, AfriFone, a smartphone and mobile technology enterprise run by Dr. Berry’s son, Sahir, unveiled its assembly plant in Lagos recently.

Justifying the need for setting up AfriFone, the Contec Global boss in an encounter with newsmen recently said: “It is an initiative of my son and his team who believe in staking their resources and all in a ventures that could empower millions of Nigerian youths.”

Continuing, he said: “This will help in connecting millions of young and even older people in Nigeria connect to the larger world. This way, they are linked to opportunities that will take them and their families out of poverty.”

According to him, AfriOne is a modest product that mirrors a typical example of how they are working to change Nigeria and indeed Africa for the better.

Currently, it is on records that over 40 per cent of Africans including Nigerians use secure technologies designed and managed by Contec Global. The group is currently churning out eco-friendly innovations from its expansive microbiology and tissue culture laboratories in Maitama, Abuja that are driving a private sector-led Agriculture revolution in Nigeria.

Speaking on the rich history of Contec Global Group which is tied to his life’s trajectory, Berry, who studied Masters of Arts in Finance from the University’s Delhi School of Economics, where he achieved a place on their Roll of Honors merit list, said, “Nigeria is a fast evolving country with a dynamic population. However, events of the past may have slowed the people and the country down leading to series of outcomes like poverty, low employment rate, poor systems management among others.

“We have realised that to move out of this loop, the country must imbibe smart technologies and initiatives that would bridge the gaps, hence our decision to put resources into areas that directly affects the people.”

Dr. Berry who worked previously in the investment banking and marketing industries before venturing out to found Contec Global Group in 1984, with offices on four different continents around the world stressed the need to empower the young population through youth-friendly initiatives.

“Based on the exigencies of time as it were, we discovered over time, the need to diversify into other areas like energy, financial technology, agro, telecommunication and hospitality,” Dr. Berry said.

Commenting on the multi-billion dollars investment in agriculture for food security, the Contec Global Group Chairman said concentration is on developing organic solutions to cure the soils across that have been impoverished across the country by continuous dependence on chemical fertilizers and similar inputs.

Shedding more light on this, he said: “Riding on the need for Nigeria to diversify to an economy that is non-oil dependent, we saw a door of opportunity to bridge the food supply deficit, hence we commissioned seasoned scientists to conduct diligent research and developments on key crops like banana, potatoes, cocoa, and others.

“This has given rise to innovative products like bio-herbicides and pesticides and other products that are currently helping to increase yields of crops like rice across large fields in the North, Niger Delta area and other parts of the country.”

On how helpful the works of scientists at Contec Global Agro Limited (CGAL) have been to Nigeria, Dr. Berry disclosed that they played a massive role in checking the tuta Absoluta(tomato ebola) outbreak in Nigerian staple.

“I am glad to announce to you that, through the use of bio-fertilizers backed with other products wholly produced organically, farmers in many of our demonstration farms are turning out bountiful harvests.

“We also have a programme in place that is creating increased interest in farming among graduates in Nigeria. This has worked so well in Niger State and other parts of the country.

“We are also working on how to merge our agricultural interventions with the smart phone technology using AfriOne to make farming even smarter. This is helping to entrench best practices among our farmers.”

His efforts have earned him a number of accolades including the Nation Builder Award and the African Order of Merit Award on e-Governance and Biometrics Technology by the Institute for Governance Research and Leadership Technology.

Only last week, Dr. Berry was conferred the 2016 Food Security Achievement Award by the leadership of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ). Prior to this, he has been so recognised by various international organisations.

“These accolades have only taken the stakes higher for us. This will surely spur growth in our system, as we will continue to strive to maintain our strength, which is based on the resolve to keep providing technology-driven solutions to the challenges in Nigeria and other countries that we serve,” Dr. Berry said.