Nahimah Ajikanle Nurudeen
The Federal Government has said that the aim of the Growth Enhancement Scheme, (GES) is reach between five to nine million farmers with good quality seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides in 2017.
This according to a statement informed the extension of it agreement with Cellulant Nigeria Limited for the provision of the GES Program to Nigerian farmers.
The extension which was approved by the Federal Executive Council through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development (FMARD) will see a continuation of the program that uses e-wallet technology to allot government subsidies, fertilisers, improved seeds, agrochemicals and good farming practices to Nigerian farmers.
GES has been the flagship program of the FMARD in the last four years and the program would have served an average of 6 Million farmers annually by the end of the year.
Nigeria is the first country in the world to implement the e-wallet technology. Other country that has implemented this technology includes Togo, Liberia and it will soon be extended to 13 other sub-Saharan African countries and the Middle East. The program has far been internationally recognized as a successfully implemented e-wallet platform.
Prior to the extension of the agreement, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari requested for certain improvements to the technology so that it can continue to serve Nigerian farmers better.
The upgraded technology was field tested with a pool of 500,000 farmers who grew 1.3Million metric tonnes of rice and maize from May through September 2016.
The approval of the President for the continuation of the program and the retention of Cellulant, the technology provider, has proved that it’s possible for a project that positively impacted on people lives to be passed from one administration to another.
The Nigerian Government is commencing an all-round farming year using the e-wallet system, from November 2016 till May 2017.
The government and the farmers will both contribute to the costs of the farming inputs as part of this subsidy scheme.
It is important to note that the GES scheme is actually an economic impetus program as the e-wallet system is a mechanism that propels economic activities into rural areas.
Annually, the program covers the 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the country, over 95,315 villages and serves 17 million farmers and 2,714 agri-businesses across Nigeria.
To efficiently kick off inputs distribution for dry season, training sessions about how to use the e-wallet platform has been organized in all six geopolitical zones in Nigeria.
During the next phase of project; the FGN through the FMARD has also approved that Cellulant should work with the financial sectors under the Nigeria Agriculture Payment Initiative (NAPI) to digitize payments in the sector.
This initiative will increase the adoption rate of mobile phones in the remote areas of the country and this will encourage the Government’s drive towards financial inclusion of those who live in the hinterland.
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