- Title: NIGERIA: Forbes names Adenisa 2013 Africa Person of the Year
- Date: 5th December 2013
- Summary: KADUNA, NIGERIA (FILE) (REUTERS) MORE OF FARMERS WORKING IN FIELD
- Embargoed: 20th December 2013 12:00
- Location: Nigeria
- Country: Nigeria
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVADX41XF8VTN7AT3TY3W835E9MB
- Story Text: New reforms being made in Nigeria's agricultural sector has seen former subsistence farmers make new profits for themselves in recent months.
In the northern Kaduna state, farmers are now able to take advantage of farm projects, where private investment is helping subsistence farmers make profits for themselves with the help of various companies.
Nigerian farmers now have better access to high-quality fertiliser, seeds, equipment and expertise on credit to massively increase their yields.
The country's efforts to boost production and increase profits for farmers was recently recognised when its Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina was awarded with the prestigious Forbes Africa Person of the Year award.
"Before the federal government would have had to spend 100 percent of the money subsidising fertilisers but today we spend 27 percent of the total cost of that and the state government are paying 24 percent of the cost, the farmers are paying 48 percent of the cost. So it's a partnership between the federal, the state and the farmers. So this has also helped to create a system that is transparent, accountable. For the first time as a minister I can tell you who got what fertilizer, when they got it, where they got it, how much they paid for it and how the treasury money was spent, very accountable system," said Adesina.
Adesina's reforms has seen about 6 million farmers in the country take up agri-business and open up new opportunities for them to create wealth. Supply and distribution of fertilisers has also become more transparent.
Oil remains the main source of foreign currency and state revenues, but agriculture is by far the biggest contributor to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), making up 40 percent of Africa's second largest economy.
With a population of 170 million people and a swelling food import bill thanks to the utter disarray in the farming sector, agriculture ministry officials say there is no time to lose.
If productivity does not improve Nigeria could face a food crisis within a decade, its current account surplus would be wiped out and the credit worthiness of Africa's second biggest debt issue would be under threat, economists say.
Adesina is also working on plans to give more farmers mobile phones to allow them access information on markets and farming easily.
"We will load onto their phone, information, market prices so they can navigate the market and load information to deal with drugs and floods. We will load up information for them on extension information, what to plant when to plant and where to plant. So it actually changes the face of agriculture, from being a development program or development activity to a various business of agriculture as a business," said Adesina.
The minister plans to create 3.5 million new jobs in agriculture and boost food production by 20 million metric tonnes by 2015, the year of the next national election.
The World Bank is putting in 100 million US dollars into agriculture, while British and U.S. aid projects pump in tens of millions. This barely scratches the 10 billion US dollars Adesina says the sector needs by 2015.
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