Osun farmers yet to enjoy FG’s fertiliser supply -Aregbesola

…FG says GES programme is huge success

The Governor of Osun State, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, has said that farmers in his state were not benefiting from the fertiliser supply programme of the Federal Government under the Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES).

The governor claimed that contrary to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development’, Dr Akinwumi Adesina’s disclosure that at least 3.5 million farmers had so far benefitted from the scheme, no farmer in Osun State had benefitted from the initiative.

Aregbesola, who disclosed this while participating in a dialogue which centred on “Growing agriculture at the state level” and also featured the Governors of Cross River State, Mr. Liyel Imoke, Kogi State Capt Idris Wada; Anambra State Mr. Peter Obi, and Kebbi State, Saidu Dakingari at the ongoing 19th Nigerian Economic Summit, therefore advocated a review of the distribution strategies.

He 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, am serious about this. Whatever the governor of Anambra experienced I did not experience. I have to commit closed to N1billion procuring fertiliser when the one arranged through the agents you put together failed woefully and that is the truth.

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

The governor said despite Osun State farmers’ lack of access to fertilisers, his administration had done everything possible to promote agriculture in the state, adding that, “we have done everything practically possible to promote agriculture in Osun and the result we are getting is not encouraging and that is the truth. “The real issue is this, are our youths interested in farming?

The answer is no. We have spent billions of naira clearing land and giving these land to farmers but the few of them that went there have they done anything?

The answer is no. Why? The answer is simple. They know that roaming about the streets begging for money pays better than to stay on the farm. “So what we must do is to first of all create incentives for farming.

There must be a guaranteed minimum price for agricultural produce that will make the farmer live comfortable life as farmer. If that is not there, we are joking. Most of the farmers will still not prefer to farm because farming today is still not a business in Nigeria.”

However, Adesina, who was also part of the debate, refuted the governor’s claims that the youths were not ready to go into farming, adding that the fertiliser policy has been a huge success as it had helped to stop the corruption in the distribution of agriculture inputs.

The minister said: “We have to do a number of policy reforms. Land is at the state level. We are working with all the governors in the fertiliser sector reforms.

We said the old fertiliser business was just a racket. In the old times people will just fill papers at the federal level and fertiliser doesn’t get distributed but people get paid and so with Mr. President’s support, we clean up that sector and the state government participated. “The Federal Government’s participation is 25 per cent and the state government 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 all working together taking agriculture as a business rather than a development programme that makes things work.”

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