By Adelola Amihere
In a move to ensure a sustainable production and supply of fertilizers to farmers for national food security, the federal government through the restructuring of the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) will see data identified small holder farmers receive subsidies directly on the purchase of fertilizer.
This is just as it also announced that it will no longer be involved in the production and sales of fertilizer to farmers across the country as a way to allow private sector participation adding that it will now play a supervisory role in the aspect of quality control, pricing and delivery.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono who made the disclosure in Abuja yesterday while delivering his welcome address during a Consultative meeting with relevant stakeholders on the development of a template for the administration of subsidy to the small holder farmers on a sustainable basis explained that the aim of the meeting is, “to critically examine the proposed option and come up with the best way or strategy to reach the smallholder farmers with the subsidy support in sustainable manner”.
Recall that as part of efforts to boost the local production of fertilizers in the country, ensure self-sufficiency as well as access to products by farmers, President Muhammadu Buhari established the President Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) which had the objective to stop the importation of specifically NPK fertilizers and pave the way for its local production, thereby reviving the Nigeria’s local fertilizer blending industry.
According to Nanono, “Our target is the small-scale farmers. The primary role of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture will now be quality control, price and delivery. There is no more ministry participation in the production or selling of fertilizer that is not our business now. The intention is to make fertilizer private driven in such a way that every farmer in this country will be reached.
To this end, he explained that the Ministry has registered and developed the database of about 5 million farmers and their farms have been registered with biometrics including farm GIS coordinates for easy targeting with the fertilizer subsidy support.
On her part, the Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed in her opening remarks, pointed that “our goal is not simply to transfer subsidies to farmers. No, our design principle is to reward behavior such as purchase of fertilizer by data-identified smallholder farmers as opposed to simply wire monies to anyone who claims to be smallholder farmers or subsidizing large-scale farmers.
“The subsidy can be delivered as a voucher and we can leverage technology to match farmer requests to their land holdings.
“This means that monies for subsidies can continue to be domiciled in government accounts and periodically settlement operations occur as pre-qualified beneficiary farmers use their mobile phones to text in their subsidy claims that cannot exceed the fertilizer requirement of geo-tagged farm sizes.”