From Okwe Obi, Abuja
The Federal Government has warned stakeholders in the agriculture sector against engaging in fertilizer racketeering, noting that it would not hesitate to wield the big stick on anyone caught as the act remains criminal.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Sabo Nanono, who handed down the warning at a consultative meeting on the restructuring of the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative, in Abuja, said farmers had lost millions of naira due to the activities of some greedy fellows.
Nanono disclosed that over 5 million farmers have enrolled through the e-portal system, to checkmate agro activities, particularly the regulation of prices and quality control as it would no longer be involved in selling in fertilizer.
‘The regulatory framework is to regulate the activities of fertilizer operators such as manufacturers, blenders, producers and importers as well as agro-dealers (distributors) under which they must register and obtain Certificate of Registration and Sales Permit respectively before being allowed to operate in the country.
‘To ease the registration process with a view to promoting transparency and accountability, an e-registration portal has been developed and operational.
‘All these efforts are geared towards protecting the hard-earned investments of the farmers and the fertilizer enterprises in general.’
He added: ‘I wish to state categorically that our target is small scale farmers. The primary role of the federal ministry of agriculture will now be quality and price control.
‘There is no more ministry participation in the delivery or selling of fertilizer. That is no more our business.
‘The intention is to make fertilizer private driven in such a way that every farmer in this country will be reached.
‘Preparatory to the provision of the subsidy support, I wish to inform you that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has registered and developed the database of the smallholder farmers for easy targeting with the fertilizer subsidy support.
‘So far about 5 million farmers and their farms have been registered with biometrics including farm GIS coordinates.’