The Buhari administration on Wednesday said it had revived the e-wallet system for fertiliser allocation and distribution, a year after suspending it. The Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, made the announcement after the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting, saying the policy would however be modified to address the challenges that made it unsustainable.
At the meeting, which held as the National Bureau of Statistics confirmed the nation was in recession, the government also approved a borrowing plan and solid minerals initiatives to stimulate the economy. But the decision to restart the e-wallet fertilizer scheme represented another economic policy reversal by the Buhari administration, which had earlier dumped the initiative.
The e-wallet system was part of the Growth Enhancement Support scheme introduced by former Goodluck Jonathan administration to address the menace of middlemen in the fertiliser supply chain, which experts identified as a challenge for farmers at the time.
The policy, seen as one of the few successes of the administration, ensured the registration of about 4.2 million farmers within its first year. More than 10 million were said to have been registered at the height of its implementation.
Akin Adesina, who served as Minister of Agriculture between 2010 and 2015, when the scheme was initiated, said its success contributed to his elevation to the African Development Bank where he is now the president.
The policy was however suspended by the Buhari government in 2015.
The Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, cited accumulated debts to fertiliser and seed companies as well as corrupt practices that had contributed in making it costly and unsustainable.
“We had to look for money from our own sources at the federal level to bear the liabilities of states,” Mr. Ogbeh was quoted by The Punch as saying in July 2016.
“The GES payment was a debt we inherited from the previous administration. The total debt was N57 billion. When we arrived here, the agro-dealers said they couldn’t operate because they didn’t have bulk money to carry on with their businesses and so we applied to government and appealed for help to raise some money to pay the debt. But the said Wednesday the Buhari administration will now resuscitate the policy.