GES: FG roll out measures for smooth operation

The Federal Government has rolled out measures that would be taken to ensure transparency and accountability in the implementation of the Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES) of the present administration.

The Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development, Dr Shehu Ahmed, said at the opening ceremony of the Growth Enhancement Scheme Stakeholders Preparatory Meeting on 2016/2017Dry Season Farming  in Abuja that lessons learnt from the implementation of the 2016 wet season GES which covered twelve pilot states including Adamawa, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kogi,  Imo, Rivers, Sokoto, Zamfara and Federal Capital Territory  would be addressed in order to ensure the effective and efficient implementation of 2016/2017 dry season GES programme.

Shehu, who was represented by the Director-General National Seed Council, Dr Philip Ojo, said measures to be enforced to ensure the effective and efficient implementation include  the use of tablet device as a means of redemption by farmers in order to eliminate double redemption and sharp practices;  implementation by the federal government alone without the involvement  of the various state governments in order to reduce the influence of the state officials on the redemption claims to be obtained and late payment to the agro-dealers/input suppliers.

He also said that stock movement especially fertilisers would be tracked by both the ministry and the office of the national security adviser  in order to   provide the actual data on fertilisers being delivered by the suppliers to each agro dealer and introduction of input package for each commodity value chain.

Ahmed said the adoption   of single commodity value chain system to allow a farmer to redeem input only one chosen commodity value chain which he/ she has comparative advantage and intend to major on seed/fertilizer/ agro chemical and only staff of the Ministry  state / regional offices will be used to performand take over the functions and activities of the supply chain management and coordination component of the GES in the various states among others.

He said the remaining outstanding claims of agro –dealers and input suppliers are currently being reconciled for payment while the Memorandum of Understanding on the payment of the Interest Draw down (IDD) upon which loans will be given to the agro- dealers and input suppliers between the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Ministry would be endorsed.

He explained that the focus of the 2016/2017 dry season would be on four major crops namely, rice, wheat, maize and groundnuts with their input packages which would be available at redemption centres to ensure maximum output while a total number of 1,500,580 farmers are targeted to be supported under value chains crops in the 2016/2017 dry season, namely rice -1,197,240 farmers, maize- 65,055 farmers, wheat- 234,445 farmers, groundnut – 3,840 farmers.

Earlier in his address, the Director, Farm Input Support Services Department of the ministry, Jatto Ohiare Badams, said the meeting was apt for stakeholders such as the state directors, agro- dealers and seed companies to brainstorm on how to move forward.

Also speaking, the National Chairman, Agro Dealers Association of Nigeria, Kabir  Fara, sought for funds and technology  from the federal government in order to boost local production of fertilisers in the country.