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N776bn lost to corruption in fertiliser sector - Adesina

By The Citizen

The Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has said the country lost about N776bn between 1980 and 2010 to corruption under the old fertiliser distribution policy.

Adesina, who stated this at the end of a three-day Food and Agriculture China South-South High Level meeting in Abuja, noted that the loss translated into an average of N26.3bn annually.

Before the inauguration of a new fertiliser policy under the Growth Enhancement Scheme, the Federal Government had bought the product from contractors and distributed same to farmers. Only few farmers reportedly had access to the agricultural input.

This, the minister said, prompted the Federal Government to unveil a new scheme where an electronic wallet was developed that allowed the farmers to receive subsidised electronic vouchers for seeds and fertilisers on their mobile phones.

Under the old policy, Adesina said only 11 per cent of farmers got fertilisers from the government.

He said, 'The backbone of any agricultural revolution is access of farmers to modern agricultural inputs, especially fertilisers and seeds. The old system of the government buying and distributing fertilisers was very corrupt. We found that only 11 per cent of the farmers got the fertilisers bought and sold by the government.

'Rich and powerful political elites siphoned off the fertilisers belonging to the poor farmers. Between 1980 and 2010, over N873bn was spent on fertiliser subsidies. With only 11 per cent of farmers getting the fertilisers, about N776bn was siphoned off the system through corruption.'

The minister said the new fertiliser system, which was introduced under the GES, had been successful, adding that in 2012 alone; about 1.5 million smallholder farmers got subsidised seeds and fertilisers using their mobile phones.

'So far, this year, over 3.5 million farmers have received their subsidised inputs via the e-wallet scheme. The system saved the country about N25bn in 2012,' he added.