By Mohammed Kandi
In an effort to provide Nigeria’s smallholder farmers access to cutting-edge agricultural technologies, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nairobi, Kenya-based African Agriculture Technology Foundation (AATF).
This is to expand the cooperation of both countries in a wide range of areas, to enable farmers have access to better crop yield, wealth creation, as well as to reduce poverty amongst the farmeres.
Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and Dr. Denis Kyetere, Executive Director AATF, signed the MoU recently in Abuja, as part of quest to boost collaboration of both organisations.
Speaking at the MoU signing ceremony, Dr. Adesina said, “With about 9 billion mouths to feed worldwide in 2050 and 65% of the world’s arable land located on the African continent, agriculture is the future of Africa, a future that would be possible only with cutting-edge agricultural technologies.”
Adesina disclosed that Nigeria has just began the process of making enabling technologies available to Nigerian farmers though the nation’s research institutes under the coordination of the Nigerian Agricultural Research and Development Council.
He said: “Prior to the launch of ATA by the President Jonathan administration in 2011, only 8% of budgetary allocations to agriculture went to agriculture research and development but has risen to 23% in less than 3 years of the ATA.”
According to the Minster, the e-wallet system allows the farmers to receive subsidised electronic vouchers for 100% free seeds and 50% subsidized fertilisers directly on their mobile phones. Farmers use their electronic vouchers to pay for farm inputs from private sector agricultural input dealers.
“In the past two years, the system has succeeded in enhancing food security for 30 million persons in rural farm households. Women farmers – who never got fertilisers and seeds for decades under the old government system – now have better yielding fields with subsidised farm inputs they receive on their own mobile phones,” he explained.