By Adelola Amihere
The Federal Government has launched a toll free call centre designed by National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) that will help checkmate activities of seed adulterators.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audi Ogbeh who launched the centre urged farmers to always call the council to get certified seeds.
He explained plans by the government to replace the Growth Enhancement Scheme which was introduced under the Goodluck Jonathan administration with Agricultural Input and Mechanization Services (AIMS).
Under the GES scheme, farmers were able to access improved seeds and fertilizer at 50 percent subsidized rate.
The Minister said this during the Seed Connect Africa Conference organized by the National Agricultural Seed Council which ended yesterday in Abuja also disclosed that
According to him, AIMS will include the recruitment, training and support of three agricultural distributors in each local government areas of the federation as they would be provided with certified seeds, fertilizers, farm equipment such as tractors, threshers among others for onward lending to farmers.
Chief Ogbeh explained government decision to replace the scheme was not only unconnected to lack of funds for government to sustain the scheme but also the fraudulent practices by some agro dealers who wanted to claim payment from inputs not supplied
He said: When we resumed office we were confronted with the debt to the tune of N67 billion which we could not pay because if we had paid we would not have been able to pay staffs salary but AIMS would correct all the anomalies of GES and remove fraud practices.”
In his remarks the Governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Bagudu, said the government should do more to protect local seed companies with favourable trade policies, and also task local seed companies to partner with bigger and foreign seed companies for a win-win situation.
“Seed companies should partner with bigger and foreign seed companies for a win-win situation”, Bagudu stated.