- To enumerate Nigerian farmers
Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The federal government said it has uncovered sharp practices perfected by some school authorities in the ongoing National Homegrown School Feeding Programme.
The Special Adviser to the President for Social Protection Plan, Mrs. Maryam Uwais, made this allegation recently at a diversity dialogue held in Abuja.
Uwais said government stopped paying the schools directly when it realised that some schools were cheating the students enrolled in the programme.
Over three million primary school children are presently benefiting from the ongoing school feeding programme in 14 states.
The states covered under the programme are Anambra, Enugu, Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Ebonyi, Zamfara, Delta, Abia, Benue, Plateau, Bauchi, Taraba and Kaduna.
Three months ago, government said it paid N6.2 billion to the states to enable them fulfill their obligations under the programme particularly to farmers and cooks.
But Uwais stressed that to ensure accountability, government now pays directly to the poultry farmers for the egg components while it has also requested the states to link the cooks directly with the poultry farmers.
“Even though we pay the schools directly, we discovered they are shortchanging the children. Because we now pay the poultry farmers, we are able to negotiate the prices down and bring down cost because there is no margin,” she said.
The presidential adviser similarly disclosed that government has also eliminated the middlemen in the payment of cooks.
She said cooks are paid directly at the cost of N20 per child.
In a related development, Uwais said government was making deliberate effort to boost agriculture by clustering the local farmers.
She said the Nigeria Agricultural Insurance Incorporation (NAIC) has been tasked to handle the enumeration, which will arm government with vital databases about the number of Nigerians that are engaged in farming and how they can be supported in improving their productivity.