A new plan using information and communication technologies (ICTs) to facilitate smooth delivery of inputs to farmers will soon be implemented in Nigeria.
“With this system, we can trace if somebody is supplying bad fertilizer, supplying sand instead of fertilizer; we know where it comes from as opposed to the old system,” said the Nigerian Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina.
According to the minister, farmers will from now get fertilizer and seed allocation through their mobile phones. 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 fertilizers voucher scheme. The system is designed to ensure transparency and good governance in the distribution of fertilizers and ensure that the fertilizers and seed companies functioned as business entities, not as contract from government.
The old system of fertilizer distribution in Nigeria according to the minister, whereby government bought and distributed fertilizers, was laden with corruption and inefficiency and also led to rent seeking and exploitation of farmers. It is expected that the implementation of these electronic voucher scheme using mobile phones and biometrics will ensure authenticity of the provider and the user for effective monitoring of the inputs.
This comes barely 2-weeks after my recent piece on The Myth of E-Voucher Schemes for Enhanced Fertilizer Use which lamented on the future use of ICTs within the agricultural value chain for input delivery. The post cited the Zambian experience which shows that e-voucher system empowers smallholders to obtain subsidized inputs from private firms (giving the firms, in turn, an incentive to expand and improve their business).
I look forward to seeing similar developments in other countries like Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania that are still stuck with the paper voucher to the disadvantage of the smallholder farmers.
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