The Federal Government, through its Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) has increased domestic food supply by 8.1 million tonnes in 120 days, according to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina.
Adesina told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday that by that figure, the ministry had already achieved 41 per cent of the 20 million tonnes of food supply promised by 2015.
The minister attributed the success achieved within the short period, beginning from May 2012, to the major paradigm shift in fertiliser subsidy that allowed farmers to buy the commodity directly from input companies
“The problem is for more than four decades in this country government had always bought fertilisers and distributed it. The fact of the matter was that most of it ended up in hands of the rich farmers, the political farmers; exported out of Nigeria. You will hardly find it in the hands of the poor farmers. That is why within 90 days of President Goodluck Jonathan administration, we ended the corruption of 40 years within 90 days.
“We took the government totally out of buying and selling fertilisers and asked the companies to sell fertilisers and seeds directly to farmers. That’s the way it should be. Government is not a farmer.’’
Adesina also told NAN that there was also a reform on subsidy to ensure that genuine farmers benefited from government’s support on subsidy.
“What we did was we put in place a database for farmers. For the first year, we are able to get 3.9 million farmers in that database.
“And then, we put in place electronic wallet which is we are providing subsidies for seeds and fertilisers directly to farmers via their mobile phones.
“Nigeria has 100 million mobile phones, so we are taking advantage of that to use that so that farmers will get allocations over the mobile phones and go to the seed and fertiliser companies at the redemption centres and collect their fertilisers.
“They don’t need the minister, they don’t need a local government chairman; they don’t need anybody to access it. It’s a very transparent system. I will tell you why I’m excited about it.
“A farmer, Nnenna from Abia, said this is the first time ever that am getting fertilisers and seeds without a politician to beg.
“Farmers in Wushishi in Niger State also said that hundreds of them were getting seeds in the area with our mobile phones.’’
The minister explained that more than million farmers had been reached with seeds and fertilisers within the short period. According to him, the programme has covered 97 per cent of farmers across the country, involving 840 agro-dealers.
“We have been able to get banks to lend N2.4 billion to seed companies; they should have lent about 23 billion to them, we are addressing that as well.
“What I’m saying is that the system worked and that is how we have been able to enforce the policy to achieve the desired results,’’ he added.