Minister of State for the FCT, Olajumoke Akinjide,
By Yemi Akinsuyi
The Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, has expressed its determination to improve the agricultural productivity of small scale farmers.
This is by ensuring they embrace modern farming methods and take full advantage of abundant market opportunities to boost their economic base.
Minister of State for the FCT, Olajumoke Akinjide, gave the promise at the flag-off of 2012 subsidised input distribution under the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme Tunga Maje, Gwagwalada Area Council of the Territory.
Akinjide said the administration was equally committed to the development of viable agricultural entrepreneurship through provision of free technical expertise and farm subsidies.
“This underscores our firm conviction that agriculture, like so many other facets of our national economy, is essentially a private sector driven enterprise that requires adequate incentives and consistent policy support”, she stated.
According to her, the FCTA has initiated various farmers’ friendly programmes that are geared towards attracting domestic and international private investment in the FCT agriculture.
“Notable amongst these programmes is the Public Private Partnership (PPP) in Agricultural Land Development Programme at Piri in Kwali Area Council where 15,000 hectares of agricultural land are being cleared and made available to potential investors.
“It is a deliberate policy to promote the development of a sustainable commercial agriculture that will not only guarantee increased farm income but also ensure availability of sufficient food for the ever growing population of the territory”, she stressed.
Akinjide said under the farmer technology empowerment programme, the administration had provided tractors and implements to farmers groups and individual corporate farms at subsidised rates to reduce land drudgery.
The minister noted that GES was the beginning of an era where the federal government and the FCT would support farmers in the entire agriculture value chain, adding that through the scheme, small holder farmers in the FCT would obtain 50 per cent subsidy on fertiliser and improved seeds of maize and rice.
“Good quality agro-inputs will be made available through the certified private agro-dealers, the era of diversion of subsidised fertiliser by middlemen has gone for good”, she stated.
In his goodwill message, the Minister Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, said the government was committed in modernising agriculture as a business that would put money in the pockets of farmers.
Adesina observed that Nigerians should produce, buy and eat locally produced food, adding that it would diversify the economy away from oil. “It will enable us to create a lot of jobs and also reduce our dependency on using our foreign exchange to import food rather we will begin to export”, he said.
The minister said that farmers would get fertiliser direct from the company through the e-wallet programme, adding that there would not be any middleman between the government and the farmers.
He revealed that the federal government had facilitated N30 billion to seed and fertiliser company to enable them stockpile seeds and fertiliser. Adesina also said 41,000 farmers had registered in the FCT to collect seed and fertiliser, adding that there were 17 collection centres.
The Secretary, Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat of FCT, Mrs. Olvadi Bema Madayi, said that the secretariat would ensure that FCT farmers had easy access to markets for their products through off-takers and contract farming system.
Madayi added: “We will encourage private entrepreneurs in the FCT to complement government’s efforts in the areas of value addition by investing in processing and product marketing”.
“We have made appropriate provision in the 2012 budget to mop-up excess farm produce as buyers of last resort during the current farming season so as to minimise farmers loses”, she said.