African farmers need support- Nigeria
Vanguardngr.com - Sep 2nd 2014, 12:06
Nigeria’s Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Adesina Akinwumi, has said that African farmers need supports just like the developed countries support their farmers with massive subsidies.
Delivering a paper at the high Policy Dialogue on ‘Research to Feed Africa’ in Addis Abba, Ethiopia on Monday, Adesina said while there is always debate on subsidies, that his position is that they are needed, especially in the early phases of agricultural transformations to ensure that the poor, especially women, and smallholders benefit from technical change.
“While developed countries support their farmers with massive subsidies, African farmers, who are poor, are barely supported. Lacking access to technologies and with limited financial resources; many do not take advantage of the benefits that new technologies can offer."
Adesina said there is no doubt that investing in agricultural research pays, “the challenge is always how to ensure that poor farmers benefit from technical change. What is important is to develop ways of targeting support to reach farmers, while ensuring that the private sector, not the government, delivers farm inputs to farmers. This is what we did in Nigeria.”
The Minister noted that public policies are needed to reduce adoption costs faced by farmers, adding that when he was appointed he met a system where the government for decades had been directly involved in procuring and distributing fertilisers to farmers.
“The system was corrupt and benefited rent seekers, not smallholder farmers. We ended four decades of fertiliser sector corruption within 90 days and with it the era of government buying and distributing seeds, and replaced it with a private sector-driven system.”
He said with that he role of government shifted to providing targeted farm support to farmers for seeds and fertilisers via electronic coupons on mobile phones or “e-wallets”.
“Between 2012 and 2014, a total of 14 million farmers received their subsidised farm inputs using electronic vouchers on their mobile phones to directly pay private sector input retailers.
“Dignity was returned to farmers. As farmers expressed their demand, the number of seed companies increased from 5 to 80 within three years.”
With the development, the Minister noted, the financial markets took note and for the first time ever banks began to lend to seed companies and agro dealers in Nigeria.
“Bank lending to seed companies and agro dealers rose from $10 million in 2012 to $53 million by 2013, while bank lending to fertiliser companies rose from $100 million in 2012 to $500 million in 2013.
“Private sector input supply companies began to build their supply chains to reach farmers directly instead of supplying to the government, stimulating economic activity, and creating jobs all across the seed and fertiliser sector value chains."From © 2014 Vanguard Media Limited, Nigeria
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