The Federal government has stated that about 5 million smallholder farmers and their farms have been registered for easy targeting with the fertilizer subsidy support, Daily Times reports.
It stated that databases of the smallholder farmers were developed and registered with biometrics including farm Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono on Monday, December 7, revealed that the Ministry through the Department of Farm Inputs Support Services (FISS) would ensure that an implementation template be developed with relevant stakeholders on the best way of administering the fertilizer subsidy to the smallholder farmers across the country on sustainable basis.
Speaking during the Consultative Meeting with Relevant Stakeholders on the Development of Template for the Administration of Subsidy to the Smallholders Farmers on Sustainable Basis in Abuja, Nanono, stated that the Initiative would ensure affordability, transparency, self-sufficiency and easy access to products by the farmers to assist them in their production and increase their earnings.
He said the primary concern of the Federal Government is how to get the majority of the smallholder farmers out of extreme poverty through targeted support in order to increase their level of productivity, household incomes and by extension guarantee food security for the nation’’.
He however reemphasized the efforts Mr. President has made in promoting the local production of fertilizers in the country in order to ensure self-reliance and easy access to products by the farmers to assist them in their production.
According to the Minister, ‘’this was made possible by the establishment of the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI). However, Mr. President has restructured the PFI with a view to repositioning it for long term sustainability and greater impact”.
The Minister charged the stakeholders to demonstrate high level of commitment and support towards partnering with the Federal Government to create reliable and sustainable channel of getting fertilizers to the teeming small holder farmers who have laboured and continued to labour tirelessly, over the years, to successfully feed the entire nation’s population including the numerous agro industries that depend on farmers produce for their raw materials needs.
He informed that ‘’ the Ministry has registered and developed the database of the smallholder farmers for easy targeting with the fertilizer subsidy support. So far, about 5 million farmers and their farms have been registered with biometrics including farm Geographic Information Systems (GIS) coordinates’’.
Nanono pledged that ‘’ the Federal Government will ensure that the fertilizers being produced and distributed in the country meet the required set standards in terms of quantity and quality’’.
The Minister noted that the Regulatory framework is to regulate the activities of fertilizer operators such as manufacturers, blenders, producers and importers as well as agro-dealers (distributors) under which they must register and obtain Certificate of Registration and Sales Permit respectively before being allowed to operate in the country.
He stated that to ease the registration process with a view to promoting transparency and accountability, an e-registration portal has been developed and is presently operational. He further said that ‘’all these efforts are geared towards protecting the hard earned investments of the farmers and the fertilizer enterprise in general’’.
In her remarks, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mallam Aliyu Ahmed, said that ‘’ our today’s engagement will be guided by fundamental changes upon which sustainability will be built; the role of NAIC-NPK be restricted to the importation of the raw materials, monitoring activities and provision of cost basis for FGN to effectively calculate and pay subsidies as for vulnerable smallholder farmers’’.
She added that ‘’all fertilizer blending plants participating in the PFI now have to provide bank guarantees to cover requisite raw materials appropriate to their demand-driven production in order to substantially reduce risk to NSIA, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning (FMFBNP) through engagement with State Governments and relevant stakeholders to develop a template for administering fertilizer subsidy management framework to the smallholder farmers among others ’’.