In 2012, Nigeria spent $11 billion dollars on imported food. A very large number for a country that has the ability to provide enough food for not only the people that reside within its borders but for much of West Africa.
Nigeria’s Agricultural Ministry is now implementing a plan that will cut down on outside spending and utilize more of its own resources. The new plan, if effective, will increase food production, increase income for locals, and create economic growth and job opportunities within Nigeria.
The Nigerian Agricultural Ministry has been utilizing mobile phones to combat a corrupt bureaucracy that has misused government funds to buy fertilizer and seeds. Upon investigation, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture, found that instead of providing local farmers with these necessary tools, the government has been subsidizing corruption. The fertilizer and seeds that were meant for local farmers were actually being exported to neighboring countries, who utilized it to grow produce, which was, then, exported back to Nigeria to be consumed. “The real seeds, the real fertilizer, was sold for private gain,” states AllAfrica.org.
To outflank this corrupt system, Nigeria’s Agricultural Ministry has registered a substantial amount of local farmers, 1.2 million in the last year, and created a database that utilizes mobile telephone numbers. With these mobile devices, the Ministry has created a system that sends vouchers to the mobile devices, which local farmers can, then, take these vouchers to registered dealers and get subsidized fertilizer and seed to grow produce with.
However, the farmers of Nigeria are too poor to afford cell phones, which strikingly differs from middle class Nigerians who often have up to 3 mobile phones on different networks to obtain the best service. Thus, the Nigerian Agricultural Ministry has implemented a plan to provide 10 million mobile phones to the nation’s poorest farmers, including half of the phones going to women.
This will provide the poorest farmers, who have the most ability to increase food production in Nigeria, and thus, decrease the need for importing food, with access to the necessary tools and ingredients to adequately farm their land.
– Angela Hooks