The Federal Government says it has so far registered more than 2.5 million farmers under its farmers' census exercise nationwide.
Mr Daniel Daoud, the Director, Federal Department of Rural Development, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday.
Daoud said that the data had been captured in the ongoing nationwide farmers registration exercise.
He reiterated the Federal Government's readiness to provide the famers with adequate farm inputs to support them and boost agricultural production.
He said no fewer than eight million forms were distributed to all the states of the federation and FCT for the registration exercise.
The director explained that the target was to register five million farmers yearly, so that by the year 2015, at least 20 million of them would have been registered.
Daoud gave the assurance that the exercise would ensure that all the small scale farmers captured received adequate support.
NAN reports that the farmers are expected to be registered through the Electronic Wallet (E-Wallet) Growth Enhancement Programme under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda policy (ATAP).
The E-Wallet system is a scheme where the farmer gets a telephone alert on the quantity of fertilisers and other inputs allocated to him or her with the access pin number at a designated agro-dealer centre.
Daoud said the system had been tested in some pilot states to know the challenges and that government was working towards perfecting the programme owing to the lapses that were identified during the test run.
``We have virtually test run the E-wallet - we call it electronic wallet; it’s a system whereby the farmer with his telephone we send to him signals from the centre to tell him the government has allocated to you one or two bags of fertiliser and this kilogram of agro chemicals; go to so, so agro dealer and redeem your fertiliser.
``The farmer takes his telephone and his voucher number, gives it to the agro dealer and the agro dealer already is also logged into the system and the farmer only pays 50 per cent and collects his fertiliser.
``So at the first stage where we did the first phase of it, we got an average of 70 per cent that is to say that out of a 100 farmers, 70 farmers redeemed their pledges and collected their fertilisers and paid half.”
Daoud identified lack of adequate publicity as the major challenge responsible for the low turnout in the exercise.
``We have looked at some of the challenges we have faced in the field and we are now working back so that we can deploy on a national scale; but one key thing that we know we must do in the next one to two weeks as we deploy to the national level, is publicity.
``So we are going on a mega publicity campaign so that farmers wherever they are in the country will know that this scheme is there and this is the process to go about it.”
Daoud said government was using the data first for the growth enhancement programme and on a larger scale, as a working document for policy makers to use in decision-making.
He said the data collected would also ascertain the total land being cultivated, the aggregate crops being produced and other documentation.
According to him, such information can be used as reference for the world map and that the agriculture ministry is collaborating with state governments and the FCT to establish farmer’s registration centres in all LGAs.
Daoud said such a measure would make the exercise a permanent scheme.
He said with that in place, farmers could go to any of the centres closest to them to update or amend their data with necessary documents and or register afresh. (NAN)