Farmer on phone

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is promoting an electronic-wallet project among farmers, and farmers will receive their fertiliser and seed support through their mobile phones. The farmers will also receive information on farming seasons, prices of products, fertiliser delivery dates and scarcity periods. According to news reports, the federal government has concluded plans to distribute 10 million phones to farmers across the country as part of this project. The project is in collaboration with the Ministry of Communication Technology, which has been reported as having already discussed with the various service providers on how to execute the project. Apparently, network providers have agreed to expand their networks deeper nto rural areas for greater access.

I like the e-wallet idea and the idea of pushing timely information and updates to farmers on the fields. I do feel very strongly though that the government has no business distributing phones to farmers when more pressing infrastructure issues stare at everyone in the face. How about roads, irrigation channels, fuel supply, and storage facilities for products, among others? By the way, farmers will also be provided with solar-powered lamps for charging the phones.

Somehow, I just can’t shake the feeling that this is another white elephant project – another idea whose cost – N60 billion – will be out of proportion to its usefulness or worth. If government had left the farmers to acquire their own phones by themselves, I would be more excited about this.


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