The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, has announced plans to reach over 60,000 farmers with highly subsidised inputs to boost food production in the country as part of the implementation of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Program Phase One (ATASP-1) for the actualisation of the present administration’s resolve to attain food and nutrition security.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Ernest Afolabi Umakhihe, who was represented by the Director, Projects Coordination Unit Department (PCU), Mr. Bukar Musa, explained that ATASP-1 would also help to attract private sector investment, reduce post-harvest losses, as well as add value to local agriculture produce. He said the ministry via the National Agricultural Growth Scheme and Agropocket (NAGS-AP) has commenced the distribution of subsidized farm inputs to smallholder farmers across the North Western States.
Speaking at the flag-off ceremony of NAGS-AP in Kano State, Umakhihe said that the event was very important for the ministry as it would help to boost agricultural production and guarantee access to quality agricultural inputs such as fertilizer, seeds, pesticides whose distribution.
He noted that the federal government is committed to paying 80 per cent of the total cost of the input package while each participating farmer is expected to pay the 20 per cent balance for the redemption of his/her inputs at the redemption centre.
Umakhihe added that “in order to increase the level of transparency, accountability and efficiency in the input delivery process, the federal government this year approved the introduction and use of ICT platform for delivery of the inputs to farmers, making this year’s program a very notable one.”
He revealed that farmers had been interfaced with and helpline staff who will man the platform had also been sufficiently trained and supervisors of the inputs delivery activities at the redemption centers had also been appointed and engaged.
He added that, “The ICT platform, known as the National Agricultural Growth Scheme and Agro-Pocket (NAGS & AP), will therefore be used by the government for the delivery of the inputs to farmers in this exercise and in the future.”
He, therefore, urged the benefitting farmers to ensure full utilisation of the inputs in their various farms in order to increase their farm output which will translate into increased farm income and encourage all the players to resist any temptation of inputs round-tripping, as anyone caught doing so will be treated in accordance with the provisions of the law.
Also speaking, the Executive Governor of Kano State, Mr. Abba Kabir Yusuf, stated that NAGS-AP was being implemented through the federal government of Nigeria funded by African Development Bank (AfDB) as a pilot phase to pave way for successful implementation of the forthcoming policy based operation.
The governor, who was represented by his Deputy, Mr. Aminu Abdussalem, pointed out that “Policy Based Operation (PBO) was a Sector Budget Support (SBS) operation prepared under the African Emergency Food Production Facility (AEFPF) funded through a loan from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to be implemented across the 36 states of the federation and FCT for a period of two years beginning from 2023.”
He added that the objective of NAGS-AP was synonymous with the objectives of ATASP-1 to ensure the attainment of food and nutrition security, contribute to employment generation and wealth creation of the targeted beneficiaries along rice, sorghum and cassava value chains on sustainable basis, and attract private sector investments in agriculture.
He revealed that the benefiting communities are from Bunkere Rano, Bagwai, Dawakin Kudu, Bebeji and Garun Malam Local Government Areas of the state.
Earlier in his remarks, the National Programme Coordinator, ATAPS 1, Dr. Ibrahim Arabi, stated that the global challenges of Covid-19, insecurity as well as food insecurity had informed the government to restructure ATASP-1 to provide an initial funding for the implementation of NAGS-AP with the primary objective of improving production and productivity of staple food crops to mitigate the food insecurity situation of the Nation.
He added that “the programme has been able to record tremendous progress in the past years of its operation such as, construction of social and economic infrastructure – primary schools, community health centers, boreholes and hand pumps, VIP latrines, community markets among others.”
He reaffirmed that the NAGS-AP would be implemented in five states namely Niger State, Kano State, Jigawa State, Sokoto State as well as Kebbi State, noting that the crops being promoted are rice, sorghum, and maize.
In attendance was the Kano State Commissioner of Agriculture, traditional rulers and other relevant stakeholders like All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Fertilizer Producers Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN), Nigerian Agro Input Dealers Association (NAIDA).