Lokpobiri: We’ve Successfully Eliminated Middlemen Disguising as Farmers

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Kasim Sumaina in Abuja

The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri has said that the Federal Government in attempt to reposition the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GESS) for farmers, have successfully eliminated middlemen and those disguising as one.

Lokpobiri while recently launching the GESS for the 2016 (dry) and 2017 (wet) farming season at Chiromawa in Garun Mallam Local Government Area of Kano State hinted that, in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive, the ministry was liaising with the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, to ensure that agro dealers were paid in no distant time.

According to him, “I have submitted the latest reconciled balance of debt owed agro inputs dealers to the Minister of Finance on Monday, government will no longer owe agro dealers.

“Having recently repositions the scheme and thereby successfully eliminating middlemen and that parading themselves as farmers when they are not, what we have resolved is that all redemption must be done electronically henceforth. He said: “And we are not going to owe any agro dealer. We already have the money intact for the 2016/2017 inputs. In his remarks, Governor Ibrahim Ganduje stated that his government was committed to making commercial agriculture profitable for it to be attractive to farmers.

Ganduje noted that the successful elimination of middlemen as one of the first steps taken by his administration to ensure that only the actual farmers benefited from government support. He said: “Aside using N100m to provide farmers with wheat seeds, the governor said that his administration spent over N1bn to resuscitate the government ‎-owned fertilizer blending plant abandoned about 25years ago.

The Governor added that government had renovated over 150 fertilizer stores, distributed 5000 water pumps to boost irrigation and engaged 700 agriculture extension workers. Spokesman of the input providers, Alhaji Auwal Balarabe however appealed to government to pay them so that they could make the inputs available, stressing that a repeat of last year’s experience would spell doom for the country.