The Federal Government has concluded plans to distribute inputs to farmers for dry season farming under the Growth Enhancement Support, GES, scheme.
This was made known by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Shehu Ahmad, represented by the Director General, National Agricultural Seed Council, Dr Philip Ojo, during the GES preparatory meeting for stakeholders in Abuja, where he said the programme will be implemented in the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
According to Ahmad farmers will have access to quality seeds, fertilisers, and agro-chemicals at 50 percent subsidy rate, which the target of the ministry is to reach 1.5 million farmers under the rice, maize, wheat, and groundnut value chains, which they will collect at the various redemption centres designated across the states for easy access and collection.
He also said for the 2016/2017 dry season farming the ministry would ensure strict compliance with the use of only irrigable land with adequate irrigation facilities, and only state and regional offices’ field staff would be used as helpline staff, while the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, members would be used to complement the staff.
However, he made it clear that the programme will be implemented and coordinated by the Federal Government alone for the sake of transparency and easy access to the available farm input at the redemption centres.
He added that three bags of fertilisers which include two bags of NPK and one bag of Urea along with other micro nutrients will be given to farmers. However, acknowledging the challenges encountered under the maiden GES programme implemented in 12 pilot states include the use of tablets for redemption, payment of logistic support to helpline staff, late commencement of roll out resulting to poor turnout of farmers, late deployment of inputs due to scarcity of products and financial limitation of agro-dealers and input suppliers to purchase the inputs.
Other issues were shortage of urea in the country; non-finalisation of the GES amended and Nigerian Incentive Risk Sharing for Agricultural Lending, NIRSAL, Memorandum of Understanding, MoU.
In another development, member of the National Board of Trustee, Agro Dealers Association of Nigeria, ADAN, Alhaji Samri Yari, appealed to the government to pay immediately debt owed agro-dealers who supplied various agric inputs under the GES programme of Jonathan-led administration. Yari also lamented that some of agro-dealers have died as a result of non-payment by government and pressure from banks, friends and relations who gave them loan to execute the contracts.
He also warned that with banks not willing to lend them money the move by the current administration to commence the GES programme might run into some itches and will negatively affect input distribution to farmers for 2016/2017 dry season farming.