The Federal Government yesterday said about 10 million cell phones would be distributed to farmers to boost agricultural production in the country.
The Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mrs Ibukun Odusote, said this at a sensitisation programme for farmers at Igan-Ipabi in Ijebu-east Local Government Area of Ogun State.
She said the distribution of the cell phones was one of the steps being taken by the ministry to ensure food security in Nigeria.
Odusote said the Ministry of Information Technology and other relevant stakeholders had been contacted to collaborate toward effective distribution of the phones.
"As part of the electronic-wallet which we are promoting, the handsets will be the toll with which we will communicate to farmers in the rural areas. Deep into the interiors, we will be able to communicate with them. We are actually working with the Ministry of Communication Technology, so they are talking to the network providers.
"They will extend their networks into rural areas where normally they will say there is no economic viability. The Federal Government will be putting some support into this, they will go into the hinterlands and expand their network so that we can have access," Odusote explained.
She said appropriate measures had been taken to commence the distribution exercise before the end of the first quarter.
The permanent secretary also disclosed that the beneficiaries would receive direct alert for the collection of fertiliser as well as information on farming seasons, prices of products and scarcity period.
She added that farmers would get 50 per cent subsidy on fertiliser as well as other necessary assistance from government.
Though Odusote did not specify the exact amount to be expended on the project, she stated that the phones would be bought directly from the manufacturing company.
She added that some of the manufacturing companies had also expressed readiness to partner with the ministry and invest in the sector.
Odusote also said farmers would be provided with solar-powered lamps for charging the phones, adding that the initiative was to achieve a complete value change in the sector.
She said graduates searching for white collar jobs should tap into the opportunity, noting that this would bring about overall development in the sector.
Earlier, Regional Director in the ministry, Mr. Olalekan Quadri, said measures were being put in place to ensure farmers engage in mechanised farming.