Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina
By Crusoe Osagie
The Federal Government Tuesday disclosed that it saved N25 billion last year from the reforms it brought to the old system of fertilizer distribution.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, who made the revelation in Lagos, said the old system, which was fraught with corrupt practices is now being eliminated using the Growth Enhance Scheme (GES), a transparent model, which his ministry developed under the President Goodluck Jonathan administration.
Explaining the manner in which the N25 billion hitherto wasted through corruption was saved, the minister said in the past, out of an estimate of N30 billion meant for procuring fertilizer for farmers through various contractors, government usually spent the whole money with the essential input not reaching the intended farmers.
“In the old system, about N30 billion was usually spent for the procurement of fertiliser. But under the new system, the federal government spends only N5billion, saving a whooping N25 billion. Also in this new model, the farmers themselves contribute about N7.5 billion while the state governments contribute N3.8 billion,” he said.
“The Federal Government was able to save N25 billion because we are now doing cost sharing using the private sector and it is very important that we have ended that corruption,” he added.
He pointed out that the role of government was to ensure that farmers could access farm inputs directly instead of using contractors and middlemen who usually corrupt the process.
He said other African countries are currently trying to emulate what Nigeria has achieved, using the African Fertilizer Partnership Programme.
According to Adesina, the government is committed to doing anything possible to empower farmers through new policies, new institutions and new partnerships.
On the issue of cassava flour, he said it was a prodigal mentality for Nigeria, which is the largest producer of cassava in the world to be one of the largest importers of wheat flour globally.
“It does not make sense for us to continue importing wheat flour, making others rich and making ourselves poor when high quality cassava flour can be produced here for making healthier bread,” he said.
The minister disclosed that apart from training master bakers on how to make bread from cassava flour, President Goodluck Jonathan had approved the Cassava Bread Development Fund for helping Master Bakers across the country.
“The President has approved the fund to help master bakers acquire rotary ovens and have access to enzymes and government is also planning to establish a partnership with a South African company to build an enzyme production plant in Nigeria,” he said.
According to Adesina, government plans to support the private sector in order to help them import compact modular milling systems for milling cassava, rice and maize in order to create more jobs.
“What we are doing is structural to see that we are number one in producing, we are also number one in processing,” he said.
Adesina revealed that government under a new staple crop processing zone recently introduced by the ministry will concentrate on developing infrastructure in areas of high agricultural activities.
“Under the staple crop processing zone, my ministry will be working with other ministries like power, water, transport and others to develop infrastructure that will be of great gain to agriculture and protect the investment of our farmers,” he said.