The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, has said his ministry focus is in fixing key issues that has hampered the performance of the agricultural sector with a view to unlocking the potential of Nigeria’s agriculture.
This, he also said would move the sector from its ignoble status as one of the largest food importers in the world to a food self- sufficient country, in addition to expanding into export.
Adesina disclosed this recently in Asaba to NaijaAgroNet, stressing that his ministry is doing this through the rapid transformation of agricultural value chains by treating agriculture as a money-making business and not as a charitable development project.
The ministry, he said, mustered the courage to break the jinx that for decades made successive governments corrupt in Nigeria through the procurement and distribution of fertilizers to rich and powerful politician farmers to the detriment of the private sector and genuine farmers.
“Corruption was incipient, as sand was mixed with fertilizers and sold to government, payments were made for fertilizers not supplied and subsidized fertilizers were resold back to government with a lot more sold off to neighbouring countries. To put it bluntly, government was not subsidizing farmers; instead it was subsidizing corruption. Farmers’ powerlessness worsened as high quality of seeds and fertilizers they need to raise their farm productivity were taken over by the elite, the rich and politically powerful.
“But we have changed all that. Within the first 90 days of this administration; we ended the forty year-old fertilizer sector racket and corruption. The old system of government buying and selling fertilizers was scrapped, and all fertilizer companies were required to sell directly to farmers and not government warehouses,” he said.
NaijaAgroNet learnt that the introduction of the Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES) Electronic Wallet System which has seen over 3.4 million farmers receiving their subsidized inputs via the GES programme and Electronic Wallet Scheme has greatly improved the sector which now target close to five million farmers by the end of the dry season.
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