Women farmers to get 5m mobile phones from government - Minister
October 16, 2012 16:50
Abuja. Oct. 16, 2012 (NAN) Five million women farmers would get mobile phones from the Federal Government next year, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, promised in Abuja on Tuesday.
Adesina made the promise while fielding questions at a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) forum organised to coincide with the annual global marking of Oct. 16 as World Food Day.
The minister said the five million phones for the women farmers would be sourced from the total of 10 million cell phones which farmers would be getting from government in 2013.
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``First and foremost, we are going to distribute, for next year, 10 million mobile phones.
``And when I say we, actually, the Minister of Communications Technology is taking the lead in this, working with my ministry.
``The Minister of Finance, as you know, she is always passionate about women, will do five million phones for women farmers so that we make sure that they get it.
``And those phones are not just for inputs; it is that we want to get our rural folks to get market information, extension information, health information, climate information; all that in local languages on their mobile phones.’’
``Secondly we are working with mobile phone companies to expand the number of base stations they have in rural areas so we can reach a lot of people in the rural areas.
``We found that one challenge was the issue of network coverage and that is a challenge we all face as a country; that the issue of connectivity reception in a number of areas has to be dealt with.
``We also have a number of farmers that do not have phones, especially women farmers, and I want to make sure that we reach those who do not have phones so that they could really be reached.’’
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Dr. Adesina said that the provision of the phones would facilitate access to the rural, small-holder farmers who needed to get fertiliser and seeds as well as updates on agricultural production in indigenous languages as part of government’s e-wallet (electronic system of fertiliser distribution) programme.
The e-wallet programme in the Federal Government’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda entails the use of GSM phones through which the farmers are allocated fertilisers and seeds directly, thereby side-tracking the middleman.
NAN reports that the Federal Government introduced the electronic system of fertiliser distribution in May 2011 in collaboration with the private sector.
The minister expressed delight that ``the e-wallet programme has brought to an end, 40 years of corruption in fertiliser distribution.’’ (NAN)