FG GIVES N276BN LOANS TO 5M FARMERS IN 2012
By Jimoh Babatunde, with agency reports
The Federal Government is committing N276 billion, secured as loans from commercial banks, to reach five million farmers this year, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, has said. Adesina said this at Orin-Ekiti in Ido-Osi Local Government Area of Ekiti State at the launch of 'Youth in Commercial Agribusiness' as well as the inauguration of the 2012 Agriculture Session in Ekiti State.
'We have completed the database of farmers, which we will continue to upgrade, so that we can have steady information on farmers in order to put a final stop to the huge corruption in the system of distributing fertilisers.
'In the past, only 11 percent of the farmers get fertiliser procured by the Federal Government and sold to farmers through the various state governments.
'That means that some 89 per cent of farmers never get the fertilisers. What we have found out is that the system was so corrupt, inefficient and displaces the private sector.'
Adesina said that President Goodluck Jonathan had directed the ministry to commence meaningful partnership programmes with all states in order to boost employment of youths through agriculture. The minister said the Federal Government had stopped the sale of fertilisers to farmers through intermediaries to stop corruption in the exercise.
According to him, the government has adopted another means through which the commodity would reach the real farmers.
'What we have designed as a second option is that henceforth, we will be using direct mobile phones, called E-Wallet to target real farmers and reach them with their fertiliser without involving the third party.'
Adesina explained that the new system would be rolled out across the country, beginning from this planting season.
While commending Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi for the Youths in Agriculture initiative from which 2000 youths will benefit from its first phase, the minister said there is no sector that can create jobs faster than the agricultural sector. Adesina decried the attitude of treating agriculture like a development programme: 'To unlock the potential of agriculture to create jobs, we must engage the energy, dynamism and entrepreneurship of the youth. We are no longer treating agriculture as a development program. We are treating agriculture as a business. Our goal is to make Nigeria an agriculturally industrialisedeconomy.
'Subsistence agriculture is not able to feed a nation. What is needed is commercial agriculture, which can be done by small, medium and large scale farmers. We must modernise, to be able to attract the youth into agriculture. We must expand the level of use of tractors in the country. The country does not have more than 20,000 whereas about 300, 000 tractors are needed.'
Earlier, Gov. Kayode Fayemi said the thrust of the youth in Agriculture programme was to commercialise farming and promote mechanisation for generation of employment and improved revenue. He said that 58,000 peasant farmers had being registered in the state while the youth farming programme would provide additional 20,000 jobs.