No fewer than 10 million farmers have now been captured in the database of the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) currently being implemented by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, (FMARD) in conjunction with private sector firms.
According to information made available to New Telegraph by Cellulant Nigeria, the technology partner of the scheme, an increasing number of farmers have been captured in recent months following the success of the scheme in 2012.
GES is a special scheme introduced by the Federal Government under President Goodluck Jonathan’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA), which seeks to increase farmers’ access to subsidised farm inputs such as fertilisers and improved seeds through the private sector.
Bolaji Akinboro, Head, Nigeria Team GES (Cellulant), who revealed this, confirmed in a recent report by this newspaper that the Federal Government had approved point of sale terminals (PoS) to be deployed as additional redemption channel under the scheme to enable farmers access fertilisers and other farming subsidies.
He said that by the development, whenever farmers get subsidised farm inputs, the details of the transaction could now be stored in the PoS terminals and later transferred to the central database of the scheme managed by Cellulant Nigeria. In addition, these terminals give the agro-34dealers the capacity to serve as mobile-money agents and enables farmers to enjoy various financial services.
The terminals, he explained, will provide very useful addition to the GES scheme as they will help to quickly capture data that could have either been lost or that would have taken a lot of time to reconcile. Akinboro also revealed that both banks and dealers would be involved in the use of the terminals and that many of them have started work.
He said: “Three Nigerian banks and two PoS terminal providers are supporting the deployment. GES e-wallet is now evolving into the backbone of a payment system for agriculture. Nigeria farmers will be able to access various financial services in addition to the farm inputs they currently get through the scheme. “These PoS terminals work in an off-line mode and evacuate data back to the GES platform on periodic schedules.
The PoS are issued to agrodealers at no cost by commercial banks and the agro-dealers via Cellulant. He said that the agro dealers are responsible for maintenance and safekeeping of the terminals, adding that they allow the GES scheme to solve the problem of capturing all categories of redemptions (farmer with phone/farmer without phone/no network) as they are happening from the side of the agro-dealer.
The agro-dealer, he explained, is also used an additional source of data into the platform via the POS. “This allows us to achieve faster reconciliation and problem resolution as we can trace/ compare transactions from farmer phone, register, RC& SL form and now PoS data. “The Nigerian Government is now implementing what we can refer to as fast-tracking financial inclusion. These PoS terminals also plug in all agro-dealers into the electronic payment policy of the Federal Government and also used to lay the foundation of electronic payments by farmers at the redemption centers.
“This will be possible in 2015 when we hope that the Nigeria Agriculture Payment Initiative (NAPI) would have delivered a smart chip National ID card through the Nigeria Identity Management Commission (NIMC) that provides a bank account in addition to the ewallet to every farmer through the revalidation/e-registration of every farmer in Nigeria,” he stated.