By Mohammed Kandi
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has marked the third year of implementation of the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme.
The GES is a system introduced by the ministry to stamp out corruption in the sector.
Through the GES, government was able to eliminate the middle-men, thereby allowing genuine farmers access to government support via the e-wallet system where registered farmers get agricultural inputs directly on their mobile phones.
The Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mrs Ibukun Odusote, represented by the North-Central Regional Director of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Sunday Edebo, said at a meeting for roll-out of the 2014 GES, recently in Minna, Niger State capital that, within the last two years, Nigeria’s real farmers have started getting direct access to subsidised farm inputs.
Odusote also declared that “ a lot of lessons have been learnt so far. Under the old arrangement of procurement and distribution through middle-men, it was easy to divert funds meant to subsidise seeds, fertiliser and tractors since farmers had no direct access to products.”
“The inputs had often times ended up being sold in an open market with huge profit to the middle-men at the detriment of targeted farmers. Only about 11 per cent of who could afford the seeds and inputs at market value,” She added.
In a statement by Abdallah Muhammad Sani of the ministry’s press office, the Permanent Secretary said, farmers all over the country were captured saying that “at the end of the 2013 farming season a total of 10.5million farmers had been captured in the national database of GES-registered farmers. Under the GES, farmers get 50% subsidy for fertilizer and 100% for improved.”
According to Odusote, the ministry consolidated the dry season farming programme of GES, which began in 2012 with Mr. President rolling off the 2014 dry season farming season in January, 2014.
She informed that “President Jonathan approved the sum of 14.00 billion to implement the programme.”
“In 2013/2014 programme, three other crops namely Wheat, Maize, and Groundnut were added to rice under the dry season programme.”
In his remarks, the Niger State Commissioner of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Ibrahim Matane, disclosed that the state had achieved a lot under the GES in dry and wet seasons of 2012-2013.
He said: “440,000 small holder farmers had access to subsidised fertiliser in 2013.” “187,212 small scale farmers were able to access 18,721.25 metric tons of fertiliser valued at N2,147,739,000 and 2,348.82 metric tons of free seeds with the state government committing the sum of N513,376,375.00, representing 25% of the cost of the fertilisers.”