Niger State government on Thursday says it has expended N1.5 billion on procurement of 15,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser for farmers in the state for the 2017 cropping season.
Gov. Abubakar Bello disclosed this during the inauguration of sales and distribution of fertiliser in Minna for 2017 cropping season.
He said that the fertiliser would be sold to farmers at subsidised rates, targeting smallholder farmers as beneficiaries.
Bello recalled that the state government, in collaboration with private fertiliser companies and suppliers, spent N1.7 billion to procure 15,000 metric tonnes of the commodity in 2015, from which 150,000 small holder farmers benefited.
Governor Bello said the farmers paid N855 million, representing 50 per cent of the amount, while the state government paid the balance of N855 million as subsided rate.
He said that only genuine farmers were able to access the fertilizer, due to the machineries the state government put in place to check sharp practices at state and local government levels.
The governor noted that due to the quick procurement of fertiliser before the planting period commenced in 2016, the pressure on farmers reduced drastically.
“A total of 4,710 metric tonnes of fertiliser were procured and each farmer accessed two bags at the rate of N5, 000 per bag or 73 per cent of cost and the state government paid the balance of N2, 000 per bag, representing 27 per cent.”
Bello said this year, the Federal Government was able to regulate the price of one bag of fertiliser at N5, 500.00, adding that the state had keyed into the scheme to procure fertiliser for farmers.
He warned farmers to desist from selling subsized fertiliser for petty gains and distributors to desist from the shoddy practices, stressing that anyone caught would be sanctioned.
Earlier, Alhaji Kabiru Abbas, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said the state government was using a modified Growth Enhancement Support (GES) Scheme for the distribution of fertiliser to farmers.
He said under the scheme, each farmer was entitled to two bags of fertilizer at 50 per cent subsised rate.
Abbas disclosed that Transparency and Fairness Farmers Identification Committees had been constituted across the 25 local government areas and Fertilizer Distribution Monitoring Identification Committees to check activities of farmers.