Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, said African farmers deserve the same kind of support given to their counterparts in developed countries.
Dr. Adesina made the observation during the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF), event which preceded the official start of the 2014 African Green Revolution Forum, held last week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
According to Adesina, “While developed countries support their farmers with massive subsidies, African farmers, who are poor, are barely supported.”
Adesina, who was challenged by a member of the audience who viewed farm subsidies as government programmes, and were particularly vulnerable to corruption, refused to back down on his stand, saying, ““The problem is not subsidies, but how subsidies are delivered.”
The minister noted that subsidy programmes, if transparent and efficient, are particularly important in the early phases of agricultural transformation to ensure that the poor, especially women and smallholders, benefit from technical changes.
He pointed out that subsidies have been critical to spurring rapid progress in food production in the developing world, and that African countries should take note of this.
“If it had not been for subsidies, India would not be the powerhouse it is today,” he said. “It’s what kick-started the transformation of India’s and Asia’s economy.”
Speaking on Nigeria’s agricultural milestones, he said that he has worked in Nigeria to end four decades of corruption in a government programme that distributed seeds and fertiliser to farmers. The key, he said, was to move it to the private sector.
The minister said farmers in Nigeria now get electronic coupons delivered to their mobile phones that they can use to purchase seeds and fertiliser.