Adesina: How FG Ended 40 Years, N800bn Fertilizer Scam in 90 Days


By Crusoe Osagie

290712F3.Akinwumi-Adesina.jpg - 290712F3.Akinwumi-Adesina.jpg

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina

  •   Agric sector yields $5.6bn growth in three years

The federal government on Monday explained how it managed to end the widespread fertiliser scam which had plagued the nation’s agriculture sector for four decades in just three months, redirecting farming subsidies back to the actual farmers after 40 years of corruption that became institutionalised in the sector.

It also announced that in the past three years, not less that $5.6 billion of added investment had flowed into the nation’s agriculture  sector, with food output rising by 21 million metric tonnes, food import cost dropping from N1.1 trillion to N635 billion and three million farming jobs created.

Until around 2011 when the transformation in the nation’s fertiliser business began to take effect, political patronage seekers across the three tiers of government waited eagerly for the announcement of the federal government’s annual budget for fertiliser which had become a slush fund of sorts and a relatively easy channel through which public fund was diverted.
Speaking during a live public affairs programme organised by the presidency and monitored on Channels Television by THISDAY,  the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr.
Akinwumi Adesina, said it took the President Goodluck Jonathan-led federal government just 90 days to end the fertiliser perfidy.

According to Adesina, the scam which had cost the federal government about N776 billion of wasted funds came to an end due to the sheer resolve of the Jonathan’s administration to ensure that the resources earmarked for the transformation of the fortunes of the Nigerian farmers actually got to them.

“The fertiliser sector in Nigeria was plagued with age-long corruption and Nigeria has spent about N873 billion on fertiliser, most of which never got to the actual farmers. Not more than 11 percent of the real farmers in the country got the fertiliser and the rest of the funds were frittered away and diverted.

“In 90 days, we ended the corruption in the purchasing and distribution of fertilizer in the country by simply taking government out of the business of fertilizer purchasing, supply and distribution. Today, the federal government does not award any contracts and it does not buy any fertilizer. We just regulate the sector and make policies that will ensure the smooth operation of the private sector which actually runs the sector,” he said.

Adesina said in dealing with all the vagueness and corruption in the agriculture sector, one of the steps the federal government took was to actually come to know exactly who the farmers in the country were.

“For the first time ever in this country, we did the registration of all farmers in Nigeria and we now have the biometric data of not less than 11 million farmers in the country duly registered. You cannot measure what you do not see, so once we could identify who the farmers were, taking the right steps to help them became easier.

“This initiative also made Nigeria the first country in Africa to get a data base of all its farmers so that no one actually stands in-between government and the farmers.

“We are now able to reach 92 per cent of the farmers registered in our farmers’ data base with fertilizer, seeds and other essential inputs because the identification of the farmers enabled us to initiate an electronic wallet system through which all farmers in the data base are sent their farm subsidy coupons which they then redeem at the point of purchase of farm inputs from the private suppliers,” the minister explained.

He pointed out that Nigeria turned out to be the first country in the world to implement the electronic wallet system that has now attracted the interest of the World Bank, which is interested in transferring the technology to all African countries.

Adesina added that other countries like China, India and Brazil also approached Nigeria for partnership to enable them learn and adopt this novel initiative.

“We are the first country in the world to introduce the e-wallet system and through the initiative, we have been able to reach over 14 million farmers who have received their subsidies from the federal government. 10.3 million of these farmers benefiting from the e-wallet subsidy administration system are from the North-east, North-west and North-central zones of Nigeria, while not less that 2.5 million female farmers who used to be largely undermined in subsidy distribution have received subsidy as at 2014 representing 287 per cent increase from the 2012 figure,” he said.

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