Based on the criticism that followed the matter surrounding the N60 billion cellphones to farmers, the Agriculture Minister, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina spoke to Saturday Vanguard in order to clear the air on the need for Farmers to have cellphones.
He stated, “We created an electronic platform (e-wallet) on which we registered farmers and agro-dealers who own shops that sell farm inputs all over the country. To date we have registered 4.2 million farmers and about 900 agro-dealers. We developed the first ever registered data base of farmers in Nigeria, which we will upgrade every year. For the first time ever, we can now base policy decisions on data, not guess work.”
“Registered farmers are sent electronic vouchers directly from the federal government to their cell phones. This voucher or e-wallet informs the farmer that he or she is entitled to buy two 50kg bags of fertilizer at 50% of the purchase price. The voucher essentially serves as cash on their phones and this cash covers 50% of the market price of the fertilizer. The farmer therefore pays only 50% of the cost of the fertilizer to the fertilizer retailer. Fertilizer and seed retailers no longer supply seeds and fertilizers directly to government. They now sell directly to farmers. Government helps the farmer to buy inputs by providing direct support through their cellphones (e-wallet).”
” It is actually the cell phone that has provided us with the tool to directly access each farmer thereby saving them from corrupt middlemen who make their fortune from exploiting the poor.”
“From the data we collected based on farmers’ use of cellphones to access fertilizers and seeds last year, we found that the total number of transactions done through phones with respect to the GES scheme was 4.9 million.”
“We intend to use the GES scheme to distribute these phones. To be entitled to a phone, farmers must be registered on the e-wallet platform. Paper vouchers will be issued to farmers who do not have phones.”
“The government will provide a subsidy to the farmer through the voucher to buy the phone. The farmer takes the voucher to the local mobile phone operator and pays the balance which is the difference between the value of the voucher and the cost of the phone.
Once a farmer buys a phone and a SIM card, his new phone number will be updated on the e-wallet database and he will be able to receive his e-wallet voucher which will entitle him to purchase fertilizer and seeds at subsidized rates. Phones will be sold directly to farmers by local mobile phone service providers.”