Nigerian Tapped as Leader by Forbes Magazine

Nigerian Tapped as Leader by Forbes Magazine

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from GlobalInternational Network – For adapting new technologies to address the financialneeds of farmers, Nigerian Minister of Agriculture Akinwumi Adesina was tappedas the Forbes Man of the Year 2013. By introducing the e-wallet andusing cellphones, Adesina said he was cutting out the middlemen and the lossesdue to corruption. “When I came on board in July of2011, I found a corrupt and totally inefficient fertilizer sector,” recalledthe minister. “The government was spending huge amounts of money on directprocurement, but less than 11% of farmers got the fertilizers. “Some of the fertilizers paid for bygovernment were never delivered to the warehouses. Some contained more sandthan fertilizer while a large portion of the subsidized fertilizer found itsway to neighboring countries where it was sold at prevailing market prices.”{{more}} The same applied to the seed sector,he said. “Middle men and briefcase contractors masquerading as seed companieswere doing brisk business supplying seed to government.” But much of seeds soldto the government were bought corruptly on the open market. Grain was sold ascertified seed. In the 1960s, Nigeria was one of themost promising agricultural producers in the world. Export crops were thecountry’s main foreign exchange earner. Today, “Nigeria is known for nothingelse than oil, and it’s so sad, because we never used to have oil – all we usedto have was agriculture,” Adesina says. The oil-rich country has increasedfood production through his Growth Enhancement Support Scheme by an estimatednine million tons in the plan’s first year. An innovative Electronic WalletSystem – Africa’s first – further allowed the farmers to receive electronicvouchers through their mobile phones for buying subsidized farm inputs, in theprocess eliminating inefficiencies and the middle man. “To date we have registered 4.2 millionfarmers and about 900 agro dealers. For the first time ever, we can now basepolicy decisions on data, not guess work. I am truly honored and humbled bythis prestigious award, which I dedicate to Africa’s farmers,” Adesinasaid. UN secretary-general Ban ki-moon hasnamed Dr Adesina as one of 17 global persons to help the world achieve theMillennium Development Goals in a team that also includes Bill Gates. Kenyanbanker James Mwangi won last year’s award.