Aidex Voices

Consult Hyperion is a consultancy which specialises in secure electronic transactions. Here they discuss how they used technology familiar on the European or North American high street to deliver much needed government funds to rural farmers in Nigeria.

In May 2012, the Nigerian government introduced a Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES) aimed at supporting local agriculture by providing farmers with vouchers to subsidise the cost of fertiliser, seeds and other agricultural inputs. The government first attempted to deliver these via mobile phone, but lack of GSM coverage along with the low numbers of farmers who actually owned mobile devices, meant that the scheme was forced to fall back on paper records. But this resulted in low levels of uptake and long delays in settling payments for farmers.

In order to find a modern, innovative solution, Consult Hyperion and the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) were commissioned by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) to review the GES service.

What become clear to us was that we needed to find a way for farmers to get their vouchers and for agricultural dealers to receive their reconciliations more quickly. The trick would be to register farmers and issue them with contactless cards, which could then be used to redeem e-vouchers when purchasing fertilizer or seed from an agricultural dealer.

The solution we proposed was the Token Administration Platform (TAP). It uses the latest mobile technology to connect online and offline farmers to their local agricultural providers, enabling farmers to have access to the GES fertiliser discount scheme even in remote regions. Agricultural providers were also issued with an Android tablet through which the farmers redeemed the GES vouchers they were entitled to, for the agricultural inputs they want to purchase.

To test the solution in the field, we launched a pilot scheme in association with the IFDC, an organisation with a long history of supporting sustainable food security and agricultural productivity in low income countries. By combining our expertise between March and September 2014, we managed to register over 500,000 farmers, issue 1.2 million vouchers and facilitate the delivery of over US$19 million in agricultural support. IFDC Nigeria employed more than local 500 staff to complete this task. Typically these were young graduates, for which TAP was their first experience of IT In the workplace. At its peak, the TAP platform was registering more than 10,000 farmers per day in the remote areas of Sokoto state.

Learn more about Consult Hyperion’s TAP e-Money Service (TeMS) here.