Nigeria became the largest economy in Africa in 2013 but still needed to reach her true potential. The agriculture sector had always contributed up to 60% of its GDP had been declining steadily for almost a decade and as a country with 84 million hectares of arable land (an area larger than Turkey), this definitely a problem that needed to be addressed.
To solve this, the Nigerian Government sustained a subsidy program where the government was the sole actor in distribution. This did not work as only 11% of the $200m dollars subsidy reached the farmers. The remaining portion of the subsidy found it’s way back to the market and was sold to the farmers through the black market. The net result was that agro-dealers couldn’t run viable businesses and as a result they began defaulting on bank loans. This led banks to withhold lending to the sector that caused a decline in availability of stock for the farmers. Whether or not farmers had the money to buy fertilizers, the distribution value chain was in tatters and they could not access the needed inputs to improve production.
“…only 11% of the $200m dollars subsidy was reaching the farmers.”
In 2012, Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) partnered with Cellulant on the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) Scheme with the goal of improving the distribution of fertilizer and seeds subsidies to farmers. GES uses E-wallet technology that effectively delivers services directly to the farmers by use of their mobile phones regardless of how simple the devise is.
In the process the program has attained great success as highlighted below:
it gives us great joy to have fully utilised the opportunity we were given to touch the lives of the hardworking farmers in Nigeria and help grow the agriculture sector end to end. This is not the end as our financial inclusion story continues, not only Nigeria, but also the rest of the African continent where the Cellulant footprint is felt by both the government, as well as the citizens.