By EMEKA AGINAM
To enable farmers access fertilizers and other farming subsidies, point of sale terminals are to be deployed as additional redemption channel by government under the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme.
Under the scheme, the technology provider of of the initiative, Cellulant Nigeria, informed that , whenever farmers get subsidized farm inputs, the details of the transaction can now be stored in the POS terminals and later transferred to the central database of the scheme managed by Cellulant Nigeria.
These POS terminals, give the agro-dealers the capacity to serve as mobile-money agents and enable farmers enjoy various financial services.
GES is a special scheme introduced by the Federal Government under President Goodluck Jonathan’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA), which seeks to increase farmers’ access to subsidized farm inputs such as fertilisers and improved seedlings, through the private sector. The scheme is designed for small scale farmers and currently over 10million farmers have been captured in the GES database
According to Bolaji Akinboro, Chief of Party, Nigeria Team GES (Cellulant), the terminals will provide very useful addition to the GES scheme as it will help to quickly capture data that could have either been lost or taken a lot of time to reconcile.
He said that both banks and dealers would be involved in the use of the terminals. Already, 3 Nigerian banks and 2 POS terminal providers are supporting the deployment.
Akinboro said that GES e-wallet is now evolving into the backbone of a payment system for agriculture and Nigerian farmers will be able to access various financial services in addition to the farm inputs they currently get through the scheme.
According to him, “These POS terminals work in an off-line mode and evacuate data back to the GES platform on periodic schedules.
“The POS are issued to agro-dealers at no cost by commercial banks and the agro-dealers via cellulant are responsible for maintenance and safekeeping of the POS.
“These POS terminals allow us to solve the problem of capturing all categories of redemption (farmer with phone/farmer without phone/no network) as they are happening from the side of the agro-dealer. The agro-dealer himself becomes an additional source of data into the platform via the POS. This allows us to achieve faster reconciliation and problem resolution as we can trace/ compare transactions from farmer phone, register, RC& SL form and now POS data.”
Akinboro added that the terminals will also allow operators of the GES to achieve total information symmetry/equality among the key participants (Banks, Suppliers, FGN, Agro-dealer) in the scheme, required for accurate reconciliation.
In his words; “the Nigerian Government is now implementing what we can refer to as fast-tracking financial inclusion”