FG to distribute 10m cell phones to farmers

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The Federal Government on Wednesday  said that no fewer than 10 million cell phones would be  distributed to farmers to boost agricultural production in  the country.

Mrs Ibukun Odusote, the Permanent Secretary in the  Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said this at a sensitisation programme for farmers at Igan-Ipabi in Ijebu-East Local Government Area of Ogun.

She  said the distribution of  the cell phones  was one of the steps being taken  by the ministry  to ensure food security in Nigeria.

Odusote said that the Ministry of Information Technology and other relevant stakeholders had been contacted to collaborate toward effective distribution of the phones.

 “As part of the electronic-wallet which we are promoting, the handsets will be the toll with which we will communicate to farmers in the rural areas.

 ”Deep into the interiors, we will be able to communicate with them.

“ We are actually working with the Ministry of Communication Technology, so they are talking to the network providers.

“They will extend their networks into rural areas where normally they will say there is no economic viability .

“The Federal Government will be putting some support into this, they will go into the hinterlands and expand their network so that we can have access,” Odusote explained.

She said  appropriate measures had been taken to commence the  distribution exercise before the end of the first quarter.

Odusote also  said that the beneficiaries would receive direct alert for the collection of fertiliser as well as information on  farming seasons, prices of products and scarcity period.

She added that farmers would get 50 per cent subsidy on fertiliser as well as other necessary assistance from government.

Though Odusote did not  specify  the exact amount to be expended on the project, she stated that the phones would be bought directly from the manufacturing company.

She added that some of the manufacturing companies had  also expressed readiness to partner with the ministry and invest in the sector.

Odusote also said farmers would be provided with solar-powered lamps for charging the phones, adding that the initiative  was to achieve a complete value change in the sector.

She said graduates searching for white collar jobs should tap into the opportunity, noting that this  would bring about overall development in the sector.

The Regional Director in  the ministry, Mr Olalekan Quadri, said measures were being put in place  to ensure farmers engage in  mechanised farming. (NAN)

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