Following the government’s decision to gift 10 million phones to farmers, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has blasted the project they claim will cost 60 billion naira (US$382,897).
According to the chamber, the federal government’s proposed phones-for-farmers policy is a misplaced priority.
Speaking in an interview with Vanguard, Prince Wale Oyekoya, Head of LCCI’s agriculture sector and Managing Director of Bama Farm Food, said the project, if carried out, will not have any significant impact on the well being of Nigerian farmers.
“Imagine our Federal Government wants to give rural farmers N60b cell phone, is this what our poor farmers need now with the high interest rate of 28 percent. This is part of corruption we are talking about; it is a way of laundering our money by the federal government.
“Farmers need working capital and not cell phone, who will be recharging the phones for them? Is it still the federal government that will do that?” he said.
HumanIPO reported on Thursday Ibukun Odusote, Permanent Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, announced the policy and said the funds were already in place and distribution is expected to begin within three months.
But Oyekoya added instead of spending billions of naira on procuring and distributing mobile phones, the federal government could make meaningful impacts on the lives of Nigerian farmers by providing them with a single digit interest rate on loans, input research and development, tractors, working capital and other amenities to excel in agriculture.
In related news, the minister in charge of the agriculture ministry Dr Adeshina Akinwunmi denied the government is ready to spend 60 billion naira on mobile phones.
“There is no N60 Billion for phones anywhere,” he said. He however spoke glowingly in support of the policy.
“We will arm them [farmers] with modern information systems. Whether small, medium or large farmers they all need information and communication systems. Connecting to supermarkets and international markets require that farmers know and meet stringent consumer-driven grades and standards.”