Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the President of African Development Bank
When I was in government, I found that, in Nigeria, the government had always been buying fertilizers and selling fertilizers, but it never got to the farmers.
For 40 years, this has been going on. So, there’s lots of corruption in it.
So, the powerful people would take the fertilizers and it is as if the fertilizers had hands and legs, they would just walk away, away from the farmers.
And, no more than 11% of the farmers were getting the fertilizers, bought and sold by the government.
So, the rich people were just put it away.
What did we do? Mobile phones.
You know, mobile phones, cellphones are the most powerful tool in the hand of the poor. And so, I knew that mobile phones were there, so I said, “well, why don’t we just give the farmers electronic vouchers on their phones? cut off all the middlemen. Cut off the government.
Look, Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola, Fanta, Sprite, you find them all over rural Africa. It’s not distributed by the government. Why can’t I find seeds? Why can’t I find fertilizers?
So, we gotta develop a different supply chain that reaches the farmers. Put farmers at the center. That’s what we did. And it was the revolution.
All across the country, the farmers were able to get the seeds, but their fertilizers, not from the government, but from input shops that are all across the country.
Over a period of 4 years, we reached over 14.5 million farmers that were getting their seeds and fertilizers themselves. We’ve cut off the corruption of 40 years. It took 90 days to do it.
But, most interestingly is the fact that we’ve taken this now global, that same model that I just explained to you, is now being used by World Bank, in Afghanistan, reaching millions of farmers there, the AfDB, we are now scaling it up to over 30 countries in Africa.