Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Bukar Tijani
By Yemi Akinsuyi
The Federal Government has disclosed that it had earmarked N3billion for seeds and fertilisers to boost agriculture under its Growth Enhancement Scheme, GES in the country.
Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Bukar Tijani, while flagging off the GES in Abuja, described the scheme as well as the procurement and distribution of fertilisers through private sector as the “reality of the government’s agriculture transformation agenda”.
Tijani, who said that farmers in the Southern part of the country would start receiving their fertilisers and seeds as from April 30, informed that the GES was targeted at the small scale farmers “in order to open bigger windows for them under this scheme”.
He explained that the procurement and distribution would be done through an electronic distribution channel known as the e-wallet, under the GES scheme, adding that the seeds to be distributed are mainly cereals like rice, maize and soya beans.
Tijani said: “This e-wallet will enable the farmer redeem his part of the GES which is 50 per cent while the federal government and the state governments pay 25 per cent each.”
According to him, his ministry, the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in conjunction with 24 commercial banks, had signed a memorandum of understanding, MoU for the benefit of small-holder farmers.
The minister added that the flag-off for the distribution of the commodities would also commence in the North by April 25, urging the state governments to work in harmony with the fertiliser and seeds companies for adequate supply to the farmers.
“The government will not select the fertilisers and seeds suppliers for the state governments and that is why it is a private-driven investment. This scheme has worked in other places, and good enough, Nigeria is the largest market in Africa”, he stated.
The minister, however, informed that each local government would own its agro-input dealers, who are partners to the suppliers and are not government workers.
According to him, farmers will start receiving Short Message System, SMS alert on their mobile phones, notifying them of the procurement and distribution processes.
Speaking earlier, the Director of Fertiliser in the ministry, Mr. Bolarinwa Osho, assured that farmers in Southern Nigeria would receive their share of fertiliser by April 30, and added that the flag-off of procurement and distribution of fertiliser and seeds in other parts of the country would take place on April 25.
Osho also informed that farmers under the GES would receive e-wallets and vouchers through their mobile phones, explaining ways of getting the commodities for their usage.
In his remarks, the Vice President of the Seeds and Inputs Producers Association of Nigeria, SIPAN, Mr. Nzem, assured that members of the association were committed to the scheme, saying they have moving round the country to sensitise farmers on the usage of fertilisers and seeds suitable for their ecology.
“We are committed to the scheme. Presently, we have on ground over 15,000 seeds for rice; we have over 12,000 for maize and others as well that are undergoing processing and packaging”, he said.