The Federal Government will this week commence the payment of the N10.3 billion debt owed Agro-dealers in the country, Alhaji Kabiru Umar-Fara, National Chairman, Agro Dealers Association, has said.
Umar-Fara said the N10.3 billion outstanding debt accumulated under the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme run during former President, Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday, that the money was for inputs supplied to farmers across the country between 2013 and 2015 for wet and dry season farming.
The national chairman appreciated Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, for pursuing the payment.
“The last chunk of our outstanding payment is ready and most likely will be paid this week.
“We have to use this medium to thank the Minister of Agriculture for honouring his word and pursuing our payment.
“We are thankful to this administration, they met a debt of over N60 billion from the last administration and they agreed to pay.
“As the National Chairman, I am confirming to you that the last payment, which is N10.3 billion is going to be made this week to agro-dealers,’’ he said.
The national chairman said he expects the Federal Government to re-introduce the GES electronic-wallet system for direct allocation of inputs to farmers, now that it had settled the debt it inherited under GES scheme.
“I understand that the minister did not want to do the GES because of the debt they met but now that the debt will be settled, it is the right time to pursue the GES.
“We are appealing that the GES should commence with this rainy or dry season farming.
“There is no system that you will bring that will not be marred by irregularities but you just have to fine-tune it.
“As you go along, you continue to correct it until you perfect it.
“No system will be perfect at the starting point until you perfect it over the years. Nigerian farmers want the GES to continue,’’ he said.
Umar-Fara said that the GES scheme was different from the Anchor Borrowers Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative.
“The GES is an intervention programme where a farmer is being assisted.
“You bring N10, 000 and the government brings N10, 000 to combine, you get N20, 000 for you to do your farming, but the Anchor Borrowers, they borrow you money which you must pay back after farming,’’.
NAN reports that the agro dealers were owed about N60 billion by President Goodluck Jonathan administration for supplying inputs to farmers between 2013 and 2015.
Ogbeh at the inception of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration announced the scrapping of the GES scheme replacing it with the Agricultural Input Mechanisation and Management Services.
Part of the reasons he gave at the time was the GES was marred with fraud and irregularities.