Minister, Aregbesola disagree over FG’s fertiliser policy

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, and the Osun State Governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, on Wednesday disagreed on the success or otherwise of the Federal Government’s fertiliser distribution policy.

Adesina and Aregbesola spoke during a debate on ‘Growing agriculture at the state level’ during the 19th Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja.

The minister said 3.5 million farmers had so far benefitted from the fertiliser distribution scheme under the Growth Enhancement Programme, adding that the government was embarking on some reforms, while the states were also carrying out land reforms.

He said, “We are working with all the governors on the fertiliser sector reforms. We said the old fertiliser business was just a racket. In the old times, people would just fill papers at the federal level and fertiliser didn’t get distributed, but people get paid; and so, with Mr. President’s support, we cleaned up that sector and the state governments participated.

“The Federal Government’s participation is 25 per cent and the state governments paid 25 per cent of the subsidy. When we started last year, we reached 1.5 million farmers. This year, we have reached about 3.5 million farmers and we expect to reach five million more before the end of the dry season.

“So, it is that synergy between the federal and state governments working together, taking agriculture as a business rather than a development programme that makes things work.”

But faulting the minister, Aregbesola said the policy was a total failure in Osun State.

The governor argued that contrary to the claims by the minister, no farmer in the state had benefitted from the initiative.

He said if Osun State had benefitted from the scheme, his administration would not have spent about N1bn on fertiliser purchase for the farmers.

Aregbesola said, “I see the spirit, the zeal and the passion of the minister of agriculture. The fertiliser distribution thing did not get to my state.

“Honestly, I am serious about this. Whatever the governor of Anambra experienced, I did not experience. I had to commit close to N1bn to procuring fertiliser when the one arranged through the agents you put together failed woefully and painfully so, and that is the truth.

“My whole approach to all of this is to let Nigerians know the danger that is staring at all of us. If we keep on pretending and sitting down that all is right, there is a major problem.”

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