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Disquiet in Nasarawa •••

Using telephone to help farmers Government's efforts to help farmers access farm inputs particularly fertiliser have always been thwarted by both government workers and middlemen. Now government says it has evolved a new method which is capable of tackling all this. How effective is it: By nrY A. Hawn SINCE the Introduction of the Agricullurc Transformation Ag.rndli. (ATA) In the FNeraJ Ministry of Agricul-

ture and Rural Devdopment. seoes of changes ha\'c been made and thb according to governmenl IS Up«IIM to bring about .. Brte" r~lullDn in the sector and place Nigeria on llilire footed journey to food security. Notable among lhut changes is the Growth Enhance-menl Support (GPS) under which 1$ W ferLlliur vouchersystem secltlng to tackle the deeply enln."OchN carnlpl practICes associaltd with fertlliur procurement and distribution 0( which only about 11 }X'rccnl of ~rs across the country (70 percent ohhc nallons population) is able 10 access the farm inpuL

A major driVing component ohhis GES 15 the electronic wallet (c-wallet), a spt'Cial programme designed 10 enable farmers enjoy government subsidy (or farming input such as seeds and fertlliu.r among others and to also chrl the lukagt'Slssod,ucd withdircct pur-

chase: and dblnbution of subsidiu.d farm inpUti by govttnmenl_ TIle e-Wlillet accordmg 10 the MmISttr of Agriculture arK! RurallNvd opment, Dr Akinwuml Adain.. SO"ernmenl is ~ing OUI 10 local farmers acro" varIOUS commumLia through the recently opt.ned fann en;" data bank by mliuring lhat whac tvt, subSidy taCh ~islered farmer is going to tnJOY I.§ scntlO them through Iheir mobile tdrphone in the form of voucher code that the fanner can take to the narest agro-dealer shop to claim whatever benefit 15 a.:OlIed them. uplammg the workmgs of the e -walltt, Adl'5111ll $aid r~1Ste~ wmers (prefel'1lbly ~n groups or assoc-aliollS) wiU rca:ivesubsldy In the forms of vouchers or a eo<k Ihatis to be tHen to the agro-dealer thai is dealing with farmers within the community. It Is expected thaI govtrnment will pay the amount of money II Is subsidizing the farming mputs ;nlo a bomk Ihalthegroup orr.rmersart regislered under as their banker for accessmg such subsidy. The agro-dealer will in turn take

thevoucher(in fonn of a rrchargccard code) to the bank used by registered farmer group for verification and onu lht voucher has been confirmed. the dealer thtn goes ahe:<ad to wlthdnw the pan payment while the rest of the money is complc:to.!d by the farme.rl before he/she III &I\"en the mpul by the agro---dcalrr. For uampk.. if a small packel of improvN fTllliu St"td Is selling for N2,OOO, govffIlrlKllt may pay as subsidy into tht' registered farm ers' Dank for onward withdl'1lwal by lhe agro--deaJt'r while the farmt'l u up«ted to complt'tt' the remain ing N 1.000 befort' rt'Cclvlng tilt ~ from thc agro-dt'&lt'l. The same thing applies 10 ferLiliur aoo oliler inpuu.. Howevcr, ob5C"rvers are of the VIew that thee'-waIkt may I)rove to be. difficult progn.mme for the feden.1 goyernment 10 implement due 10 what some oflhem described as -illiteracy levd- of mOSI rural farmers who may nOI be able to use tht tut mt'SSaging facility oftheir phones Ind iOffie of them may not even have acccu to mobile' phones or GSM service in their commumties.. TillS IlCcording to an agro-dealer stakeholder, Mr Mkbad Oyegbile of Premier Serd, Zana, may serve' as a major hindnou to lhe full imple mentatlOO ohhe plan ucept of (OUfSC other provisions are made.. Speaking at a rt'Cent agro-input dealer ~-akdwldc:rs IIlC'Cting In Solej.. Niger State, OyegbUe drew altmbon to tht need fOt" better coordinalion of the agro-mpul sub--sec1oru It iS8O'ng to be a major Implementrr oflke GES e-wallt't and also because ofthe i'tJOrlg and available nt'tWOrk of agm-dealers across most viUages in Nige'rI~ But the minister of agnculture hu differed on the aq:ument Ih;u most rural farmers may bcllliltrale alld may not openle or own mobile phones.. Adesina saId many rural farmers. according to r«ent survey conducted by the mini.§lry acmss lOme Sillies in Nigeria shows lhat many farmen; have mobile phones and they arc able 10 use the tUllng faollty or have someone who can a5SJ.St them openule their phones. He said the nOlion thai filfmefl

art 1Iliteraie docs nOI completely hold because lIIaJlY oflhem can predklthe ~ather and mm other agriculture rdated arithmetic beuer than some assumed Iitenles.. According to him. the ftdtral goy. trnm6lt has prepared back. up YOI.Ichen: m paper fonn for fanntrs to be able to accc5lsubsKllud lllputs such as ferItliur and seeds If they IR unable to get them through the dectronic wallel (e-\alId) voucht'l due 10 poor GSM network in some rural areas.. -We tested Ihe e-wallet across 12 stalesanc! the level of 5UCCC'55 III Lt'lmS of response by farmers who were able to use their celi phones to get tht inputs was about 70 percent. The5l! badwp vouchers are expected to be gIVen to t.umC'l"S In remote locations whl're K«:S$ to com muniaLion St'rvice is poor or absent through informatlOD ccnlrC'S that wtll be established across allloc:al govern· ment arC'illi in tIle federation, he said. Adesina JlUd the farmt'l dala base Cl'nlre IS to proVIde the bIometric information of farmen such as their phone numbeno lind localion5 among others which will be used to reach out 101hem. Hr said the e-wallet system has sl!ownlmpresslve results iI1 NasanWll, Zamfara, Kogi, Ekiu, Taraba and the Fedenl Capttal Ternlory (FCT). Othen arC' Ondo which recorded 62 penxnl succeu, Akwa lborn 90 pcr· cenl, Odta 75 percent, Bauchl75 percent. Nigt'l 5<1 percenl, and Ogun 65 percent. It iscxp«:ted thtat theendof four}TIn of conducung Farmer's registralion acroa Nigena, mosI fanners will have been "'ptured under the subSidy suppon programme.. There have been complalOts from !iOme farmers in Kujl' Area Council in I:cr that some villages havr not been captured iI1 the farmers dala reglSlra lion Ihal was .laid to haft takc:n place III Ihr council. Oneof n~ch far,ners inShadadl vii· lagt, Isaac Jacob hili appealed to the federal govt'lnment to go back and caplure farmers .1Il his commumty. Th IS hr said wlll leave them in their suffermg because Ihey cannot KCe5S fertiliztr and arC' forced to depend on cow dung from Fulanl herdsmen.


Continued from page 49 ofNSTB. and hIS members mcluding E liP" Wada YahBya Mohammed. Tht:)· dcfl.."IIded the IlTTlUIge nau.. polnungout that It did nOI conlT11\eneany law, but sa Jsfied I provision ofthe Illw " 'hlch SUlles t.Iuu With thelj1p' ovtJ oftbe gover1lOC, a consultnnt can be hl~ 10 provid' «Ram services, mcludmg tile olle Ahmed Zakari & Co was engaged for The govt'mment offiends also staled lrulln their wisdom, even 60 pert!ent ofthi' t'xcess was not 100, much f~ Ahmed Zakan & Co given ttulthc firm will b: I8kmg this only fortht supulated penod ofl6 months. I!1d thereafter. the impact oflhelr services to the Slate will be long felL The mlllutes stated thai the la\\'ma ~CN IOSll,ted thai KO"c:mmenl can e"ol\e bdter ways ofu ili1tngthe staffof lhe ll:\enue board to m"e than IJCrfoml Dflilmally, ruther than resort to engugmg. COT\Sultllnl. ()ne of .such ways to bc:Utr fund the board's operationS. tiM: mlllutes said IS thrown out by NSTB. because:, accord ns 10 Iho! finance commlsslonler, leiToru to get govcrnml nl'.; approval for Ihis. has betn ulISUCCC:jSful NSTB responded 10 the posilion of the commillec III lIS reply IetttrdntedArnl12, mdlcatmgtha J.: II cumed OUI M ~e", of tile bow-d and dlscovt'~ that liS activllies III the pasl 10 monlhs., apan from "' I meetlllg l:lfgeu. dwtndlcd retums. NSTB's lellCf renllnd -d the Iiouseofits limits as a lawmaking ocgan, 001 to pol e nose: III mailers of the e:ca:uuve unn. - The commlttele shodd not be seen. 10 do Executive fUnetions-, the leu..:r, oguin. signed by Yalrubu Sharll. Secrtlary ofNSTB said in ran. The lIouse insbts lbr) louse committee dId not glw U) ~ II nused a letteronArnJ 17 sl!Illngthat apart from the fact thai the board is conslT1lmrd by lack of necessary facllttics, It has made appn~clable impro\emenl going by th: figures already sho\\."f\loNSTD "The IClterrequc:sled N';r& to fwnlllh the committee:" IIh records showmg theoul :orneoflhe firm's Similar .se:rvices m olhf'rstatesJustllS It Ilalillamed Itse8fher po!>ltion that handlllg the finn 10 po ~nt ofcxce:sse. raked from re ... mur g~nenJllon-cannot I e)lll.;c.ept;..-d by an) sound-mtndo.!d eitizen.,flbc SLlle withcul (ueslloning." "The leiter said NSTB should I'Illht r atgagt' Ahmed Zakan &. Co and pay them al once 10' lfi,4flize capacity building workshops or SC:lIlmars for 5uJTcflhe board 10 impn» t them Ihan "mongagmg Ihe S14.1e revenue board III the name of eonsulllll1CY 5C:rvlces r. ... one-and-a-half )·ears."Thc llelter defended the committee's probe of the contract, clung some pro\islonsofthe" was empowenng the I louse 10 cnny out o ... enights. Iksldc:s, the lellC'T Slllted mC'Tllbers' couN. thai the cont6lUOUS conU"OCl was known to the gov :ml .... Du! tilt: committee IS m possession Ifphoto..;opies of relevant documents on tht: conlt'Dct mc!ud,ng the Marth I leiter fmm NSTD 10 Ahmed Zakon ~ Cn in which the body mfonneathe firm Ihatll receiVed tpprOval from the go\etnor to engage them for the servlecs. Oncanalystslmpl)' commented, ~It I . thccaseofbelng penny Wise, pound foolish .... But mnnyslllinststthal fora govcmmtntthllt hasshIlwn good result y IIh,n • short In It 15 worthy 01 bclllgall0\4cd toexpc:nm :nl.ll1 thiS mat

DAILY TRUST, 13 MAY, 2012  

Using telephone to help farmers