FG to begin distribution of farm input for dry season farming

As part of meas2016_11_21_17018ures to en­sure the continuous pro­duction of food in the country, the Federal Government has disclosed that it has conclud­ed plans to roll out the Growth Enhancement Support scheme (GES) for the dry season farming.
The announcement is coming amidst the controversy trailing the non-settlement of outstand­ing claims of agro-dealers and input suppliers, which resulted to financial institutions refusal to provide loans to agro-dealers and input suppliers.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development howev­er assured that it was working with the Ministry of Finance to provide funds for the settlement of the debt maintaining that in no distant time the money would be paid.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr Shehu Hamed dur­ing the GES preparatory meeting for stakeholders held on Thurs­day in Abuja said the program would be implemented in all the 36 states of the federation and farmer would be provided with seeds, fertilizer, and agro-chem­icals at 50 percent subsidy rate.
He said the target is to reach 1.5 million farmers under the rice, maize, wheat, and ground­nut adding that their input pack­ages would be made available to them at redemption centres.
He disclosed that the Federal Government would implement the GES alone without the in­volvement of the state govern­ments so as to reduce the in­fluence of state officials on the redemption claims to be obtained and the late payment to agro deal­ers and input suppliers.
The Permanent Secretary who was represented by the Director of National Agricultural Seed Coun­cil, Dr Philip Ojo disclosed that three bags of fertilizers made of two bags of NPK and one bag of Urea among other micro nutri­ents would be given to farmers.
He said some of the problem encountered when the GES pro­gramme was 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 turn out 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 problems include short­age of urea in the country; non-finalization of the GES amended Nigerian Incentive Risk Sharing for Agricultural Lending (NIR­SAL) Memorandum of Under­standing.
On the security threat posed by fertilizer the permanent secre­tary assured that the stock move­ment especially fertilizers would be tracked by both the Ministry and the office of the National Se­curity Adviser (ONSA) in order to provide the actual data on fer­tilizers being delivered by the sup­plies to each agro-dealer.
He further maintained that for the 2016/2017 dry season farm­ing the ministry would ensure that there is strict compliance to the use of only irrigable land with adequate irrigation facilities adding that only state and region­al offices field staff would be used as helpline staff while the NYSC corps members would be used to complement the staffs.
A member of the National Board of Trustee, Agro Dealers Association of Nigeria, Alh Sam­ri Yari said given the current eco­nomic situation in the country, government need to intervene in the provision of seeds and fertil­izer for the farmers, but appealed to the federal government to im­mediate pay up the money owed them.
He lamented that some of agro dealers have died as a result of debt being to them by govern­ment and banks are unwilling to support them and if care is not taken it may affect the distribu­tion for the dry season farming.
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