Minister of Agriculture, Akinwumi Adesina
The Federal and State Governments are to collaborate on the proper handling; training and knowledge transfer required to use fertiliser and associated in-puts to protect the health and safety of farmers and workers in the country.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, stated this at a media briefing on ‘Fertiliser Delivery to Small holder Farmers Using Technology Enabled Growth Enhancement Support Scheme’ in Abuja.
Adesina also expressed the readiness of the FG to work with relevant stakeholders, organised private sector and farmers associations to establish a nationwide network of agro-dealers to ensure fertilisers availability across the country.
He said this was in accordance with the requirement of the school curriculum, agricultural extension system, quality control regulation and inspection process of agro-dealers.
According to him, “the federal government, through the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing in Agricultural Lending System (NISRAL) will facilitate access to value chain financing for suppliers and agro-dealers”.
The minister said no fewer than five million farmers are to benefit from the FG’s Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme in the 2012 farming season.
The minister said the federal government was able to raise N30 billion from banks to fund the supply of seeds and fertilisers to farmers with support from the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
He said the joint effort reduced the interest rates charged for accessing bank loans from 15 per cent to seven per cent, pointing out that such development was an indication of the banking sector’s support for the FG’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA).
“We were able to raise the sum of N30 billion from our banks for our seed companies and fertiliser companies to supply farm inputs to farmers. We were able to also reduce the interest rates of the companies who were accessing this bank loans from 15 per cent to 7 per cent, which means that the banking system is beginning to really support the Agric Agenda.
“The most important thing when you are providing support is whether you know the farmers. So, it is very important for us to know the farmers that are going to be getting this; obviously, we cannot reach all farmers in one year, so we decided to start with five million farmers this year,” he added.
Adesina gave the assurance that though only 4.3 million farmers were registered in the recently-developed data base for farmers, adding that government would ensure that the number increased massively. According to him, 500,000 tonnes of assorted fertilisers would be distributed to farmers in the states.
The minister said in furtherance of the GES agreement, the states in the Northern part of the country would receive 14,000 tonnes of fertilisers each, while the states in the Southern parts would get 12,000 tonnes of same.
He said the fertilisers would be sold to the farmers by agro-dealers, adding that Help Centres would be established in each local government area to ease the reconciliation process, which would last 10 days after the redemption exercise.
The minister also said redemption centres would be sited in all the states to enable farmers to easily access agricultural inputs. “Redemption centres have been created by states because it is important so that our farmers don’t walk long distances in search of seeds and fertilisers”, he stated.