by Lekan Olanrewaju
The Federal Executive Council on Wednesday approved a 50 per cent subsidy of N27 billion for the supply of fertilisers to rural farmers in 2012.
Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina made this known yesterday after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice-President Namadi Sambo.
“Agriculture in this country employs 70 per cent of the population, but you cannot tax the 70 per cent because they are mainly poor people.” he said. “That is why the new programme involves subsidy. Subsidy is supposed to be for the poor not for the rich.”
The minister also stated that the Federal Government would contribute N13.5 billion, which will constitute 50 percent of the subsidy, while the state governments would be responsible for the remaining 50 per cent.
“What we are doing now with regards to that is that in this year, the Federal Government’s share of the growth enhancement support will be N13.5 billion for fertiliser.” he said. “And the share of the state’s government is just a half of that. So, the whole thing for fertilisers will be roughly N27 billion. “I believe we must continue to subsidise Nigerian farmers. The issue is not the subsidy, the issue is how do they get it.”
He went on to say that a new distribution system had been devised, as before now, only 11 per cent of the subsidies were getting to the farmers.
According to him, the FEC had approved a nationwide implementation of Electronic Wallet as part of the Growth Enhancement Support system developed by the Ministry of Agriculture. This is said to allow farmers get allocation for seeds and fertilisers through mobile phones without the need for middle men.