The Federal Government is to start distribution of farm inputs to farmers for the 2017 wet season farming in August, Mr Ohiare Jatto, an official, says.
Mr Ohiare Jatto, the Director, Farm Input Support Services, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, disclosed this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday.
He said that no fewer than 300,000 to 500,000 farmers across the country would benefit from the programme.
Jatto said that the setback experienced in the distribution of the inputs, under the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme, was as due to the delay in the release of the 2017 budget.
“We still owe agro dealers a lot of money and we want to clear the debt as soon as we have money to enable them to participate in the programme,’’ he said.
Jatto said that although the Federal Government had settled part of the debt owed during the 2014 wet season and 2014/2015 dry season farming, the money paid was insignificant, when compared to the outstanding one.
“There will be farm inputs for farmers this year but the timing is the factor.
“We are still hoping to start inputs distribution between the last week of July and first week of August, all things being equal, if we are able to pay the agro dealers.
“We know that agriculture is time-bound and we are bothered. We are thinking that by now, money would have been released but up till now, it has not been released and this is delaying our operations.
“This has been the problem; the Federal Ministry of Finance has commenced the payment but the money released was small because some of the agro dealers are already indebted to banks.
“ The government agreed to pay them in instalments for the 2014 and 2014/2015 wet and dry season farming until the whole debt is cleared.
“For the 2016/2017 dry season farming, we are planning to pay them 100 per cent.
“We are planning to reach about 300,000 to 500,000 farmers during the programme,’’ he said.
Agro dealers in May staged a protest, asking the Federal Government to settle their N39 billion claims from the GES scheme.
The Federal Government had, however, approved N12.5 billion as part-payment for the claims.