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Nigeria: Cell Phones for two million farmers in 2013

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Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Nigeria: Cell Phones for two million farmers in 2013

Nigeria's agriculture minister today responded to a barrage of criticism about the planned distribution of cell phones for two million poor farmers this year, gradually scaling up to a level of tenmillion phones.
"We found that 71% of farmers sampled did not have cell phones. This shows that many of our farmers in rural areas are quite poor and are excluded from the benefits of the mobile phone revolution going on in Nigeria.", Agriculture Minister Akinwumi Adesina said, contesting the perception that "any farmer that is worth the name can afford to own one, and most likely has one already ".
The minister said 1.2 million farmers received their subsidized fertilizers and seeds through cell phone vouchers in the past year, resulting in the addition of 8.1 million metric tons to Nigeria's domestic food supply.  He said the increased production helped to avoid a predicted food crisis when the worst floods in 50 years, beginning in July, displaced over two million people and took the lives of over 350, according to Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency.
Now the pilot programme will be extended to reach farmers who don't already have cell phones by working out ways for them to obtain the devices. Ministry officials say the phones could eventually be used for multiple purposes, from communicating weather and climate information to accessing market data. Experiences in other African countries show such uses can deliver higher prices to farmers who sell their excess production to earn needed income.
Estimates by the country's bureau of statistics and the Food and Agricultural Organization suggest that the country has some 14 million farmers.

Source: AllAfrica