14 February 2012

Nigeria: Farmers to Get Fertilisers Allocation Via Mobile Phones

Farmers will from now get fertilisers and seed allocation through their mobile phones, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, has said.

Adesina made this known on Sunday in Abuja while fielding questions at a News Agency of Nigeria forum, where he said the strategy was couched in the new fertilisers voucher scheme.

The minister said the old system whereby government bought and distributed fertilisers was laden with corruption and inefficiency and also led to rent seeking and exploitation of farmers.

He said the new scheme was designed to get seeds and fertilisers to small holder farmers using their phones and biometrics to ensure authenticity.

Adesina said the system was designed to ensure transparency and good governance in the distribution of fertilisers and ensure that the fertilisers and seed companies functioned as business entities, not as contract from government.

He said: "With this system, we can trace if somebody is supplying bad fertiliser, supplying sand instead of fertiliser; we know where it comes from as opposed to the old system.

"So, I think we've taken a tough decision on that; I'm proud of what we are doing, and we are going to enforce it."

Adesina also explained that the ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and the CBN, had put together a loan guarantee facility to finance the seeds and fertilisers companies.

He said that N30 billion had been secured through the scheme for the companies.

"We have figured out that what the seed companies and fertiliser companies need is access to finance to be able to sell their seed and fertilisers directly, and we have done that.

"We put together a financing plan where we put in a guarantee facility to allow the banks to lend to seed companies and fertiliser companies.

"So for this year 2012, we've been able to secure N30 billion of financing for seed and fertiliser companies to supply seed and fertilisers without spending a single naira of government.

"Before, the minister would have to award contract worth N30 billion; I didn't have to do that; the private sector just was facilitated to get the job done."

The minister also told NAN that in the new system, government would no longer procure and distribute fertilisers allow the companies to deal directly with the farmers.

"The government in Nigeria has been supporting fertilisers for decades, but unfortunately, the system that has been used over the decades have been the government buying fertiliser and the government distributing fertiliser.

"So you have a pipeline which is all government; the problem is that that pipeline is a leaking pipeline.

"Fertiliser gets into the hands of government and it walks away from farmers, so that only 11 per cent of farmers in this country are getting the government subsidised fertiliser.

"It does not reach the farmers, it distorts the private sector, and it's a total waste of government funds." (NAN)

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