The Coordinator, Federal Capital Territory’s Growth Enhancement Support (FCT-GES) programme, Mr. Ovurwu Isa Ademoh, in this interview with Stanley Onyekwere, talks about how the introduction of the Touch and Pay (Tap) innovation into the agricultural initiative has made itsregistration processfaster, efficient and secured for beneficiaries. He also touches on how it is improving farmer’s productivity in the FCT.
Tell us about this year’s FCT GES –Tap programme ?
This year’s programme started on the 24th of May and we are at the fifth week now. And at the end of the week, 52,000 farmers have already been redeemed, out of the 108,448 farmers that were registered in the programme. This shows that we are improving very well, as the process is now faster than that of the previous year, which means that we would achieved more, in terms of agricultural yield, this year too.
With the introduction of the Tap innovation into the GES- programme, how would you compare this year’s registration process with the initial method adopted in previous year?
The method is better now and the farmers are happier because their time is not wasted. As soon as a farmer comes to the any of our registration centres, and the officials collect his or her’s (the farmer) GES card, and tap GES tablet, immediately would appeared and the farmer is redeemed immediately. There is nothing like being stranded due to network failure or poor service. So this is faster, more efficient and secured method. Therefore there is no foul play in the process.
Of what importance is the GES TAP to the average farmers, in terms of enhancing their productivity in FCT?
First, for us; we are able to know who our farmers are, as we have all their records including their pictures; so we are now sure that actually these are our farmers, who are accessing available farming inputs through the GES. And collecting these inputs will increase productivity of farmers in the FCT.
How would you ensure thatsome farmers, who are genuine farmers but were not captured in the just concluded registration process for the GES Tap pilot scheme, are noted completely left out?
There is hope for farmers who were not captured in the programme. As we have said, this is a pilot scheme. This is only taking place in FCT and Sokoto state. That’s why you discoverthat each of the centre, we still have our officials there- taking names, phone numbers and other particulars of those (farmers) who were not captured during the period. We have other programmes, what we call the value chains initiatives for soya beans, sugar cane and some other crops. So these farmers will be taken careful in these other programmes.
What were some of the challenges that you encountered during the pilot scheme?
No new technology that does not come with some challenges. The peculiar challenges we faced was, when you collect the farmers data in a centre, where you have a coordinator, and then coordinators at all data collecting centres are expected to collate and transfer the harmonized data to the server. But in some cases, it was not working well. But the manufacturers are already here (FCT) with us, and when we encountered such problems, we go to them and they format the system, and within some hours the problems was resolved. This was not a major challenge during the exercise. It is not comparable to what we faced last year- when we called several and we were told that the network is not available.
What would be your advice to farmers and the communities in FCT, on how best to maximise the programme?
I want to advice farmers that any time they are called upon to come and register for any particular agricultural programme, they should heed to the call and registered. This is because; the current administration is serious in encouraging farmers, in order to increase their productivity. The improved seeds that are made available helps to increase their productivity. They plan these seeds and use the fertilizers that they are given.
What are the measures in place to ensure the sustainability of GES-Tap initiative?
As part of some of the measures in place to sustain the initiative, the Federal of Ministry of Agriculture and Rural development, as part of the Federal government’s Agriculture Transformation Agenda (ATA),is planning to send a bill to the National Assembly to enact a law in this regard, so that subsequent government will continue with the programme. It is a very good programme, as it enables us (government) to know who and what we are dealing with in sector. I can tell you, that this year, this number of farmers planted maize; so number of farmers planted rice and so on; and this is the expected yield from it.