Togo has reduced the subsidy by up to 75%.

Before 2008, input was supplied by the private sector with around 12,000 tons of NPK fertilizer and urea. To reverse the trend, the government has decided to set up the Agricultural Input Purchasing and Management Facility (CAGIA) and with the World Bank a seed and fertilizer supply program has been put in place.

By doing so, the country has gone from less than 12,000 tons to 30,000 tons from 2009. This allowed to leave the deficit situation of -13% in terms of cereals to 13% of surplus from 2011.

Since then, Togo has 13,000 tons of corn and other cereals every year. To achieve this result, almost two-thirds of the Ministry of Agriculture's budget were used for seed and fertilizer subsidies.

In order to cope with other emergencies such as research, extension and other related services, the government has decided to review the weight of the fertilizer subsidy.

"In relation to that, the head of state decided that we needed to reform fertilizers. We had to change almost the whole system, we had to use the mobile telephony and we had to reduce the subsidy and target the vulnerable producers to have a so-called smart subsidy", explains Koutera Bataka, minister of agriculture, animal and fishery production.

To achieve this, Togo capitalized on an experience that it had begun in reviving agricultural policy under the IFAD-financed Agricultural Development Project, which consisted of distributing seed and fertilizer kits for half a hectare for vulnerable farmers.

"We ended up with leaders and mentors as beneficiaries, so we learned from the targeting system and the difficulties that have emerged," he says.

From 2015 and in accordance with the ECOWAS regulations, Togo has set up four structures including a committee to regulate all fertilizer, the national service responsible for monitoring, the laboratory for quality control and the Order authorizing import, distribution of fertilizers.

Mobile telephony to limit intermediaries

The country has put in place its subsidy mechanism, starting by identifying technological solutions to cope with the administrative burden and eliminate intermediaries.

It is a system that operates at three levels: identification of beneficiaries and registration of all private operators who wanted to engage in distribution; the implementation of the electronic platform (AgriPME) in collaboration with the mobile operators and the management which is the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance.

"The mobile phone is still a rather extraordinary advantages that avoids having to resort to the human and having to multiply committees.The budget of the public finances is directly sent to the producers who are responsible to buy the fertilizer from the companies approved to administer the subsidy", reports the minister.

Once the farmer has used his subsidy, he continues, "there is a check at the level of the operators who have to prove that they have actually sold and we make a reconciliation statement and the inspection service has to do the control with its agents who are in the field for the follow-up.It is after their confirmation that the telephony operators are authorized to pay the money on the account of the distributing companies".

The subsidy that benefits the recipient for three years was used as a gateway to create producers' sensitivity to the use of improved inputs. As result, Togo has reduced the subsidy by up to 75%.

The state managed the distribution with 112 stores, but the increase of the private operators allowed to multiply by three the number of stores which approached the producers.

The current challenge in Togo is the capacity of private sector actors to continue to dispose of fertilizers. For this, Minister Bataka has appealed to the African Development Bank (AfDB).

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