Year published: 17/11/2012

The agro-economy in Nigeria has huge potentials and fertilizer plays a significant role in harnessing this opportunity in crop production. Research has shown that farmers in Nigeria apply less than 20kg fertilizer nutrients per hectare compared to world average of 100kg. It is also established that farmers in Nigeria use less than 5% improved seeds.For many years, agro inputs supply and distribution in Nigeria has been limited by ambiguity in government policy regarding production, liberalization, regulation and subsidy provision. Subsidy administration has been fraught with so many inefficiencies with farmers claiming that the inputs do not get to them at required times and recommended rates or at all. Fertilizer procurement and distribution in particular has been fraught with fraud, discrepancies and inefficiencies. Governments at the Federal and State levels were spending a lot of money on farm inputs which were not reaching the intended beneficiaries (small holder farmers) and thus, had no significant impact on the national food output. Resulting from advocacy efforts by FEPSAN and other stake holders, the Government has now realized that it’s intervention in the market with presumed subsidized inputs might have been limiting development of the private sector (potential) market channels that are sceptical of coming into the market, consequently the private agro input market does not develop, thus constraining crops productivity, national food security and economic growth. To address this, the Federal Government has decided from the 2012 farming season to opt out of direct procurement and distribution of inputs and instead instituted the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GESS), aimed at delivering subsidized farm inputs to farmers through an electronic wallet. Under the Scheme, an accredited farmer will receive agro inputs allocation through an e-wallet that hosts unique voucher numbers sent to his or her phone, and goes to an accredited agro dealer to redeem his inputs. It is expected that this should lead to improvements in agro inputs distribution and marketing by private sector; as well as consequent improvement in crop and agricultural productivity; and profitability for both the input supplier/dealer and farmer.