The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, has inaugurated an inputs loan scheme for 10,000 farmers to boost federal government’s commitment to making agriculture the mainstay of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Abubakar, at the flag-off of the scheme in Kano on Friday, said the scheme, which is a partnership between the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) and a private firm, Ghas Integrated Services Limited, had the blessing of the federal government. He personally inaugurated the scheme because such private-led intervention in the agriculture sector is of top interest to President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said the Nigerian economy was no longer a mono-economy, depending solely on oil and gas, as agriculture, in the past seven years, now contributes more to the GDP than any other sector because of the commitment of the present administration to diversify the economy.
On what the government intends to do to sustain private-sector-driven intervention in the agricultural industry, the minister said, “There is already a programme called Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones flagged off by the president some months back to invite investors that are agro-based industries.”
He said the government would see to it that the scheme is sustainable, but appeal to the farmers to utilise the loan for what farming that it’s meant for while also appealing to them to ensure they are well insured.
The national president of the AFAN, Dr Farouk Mudi, said the private sector involvement in the scheme was to ensure sustainability because of the attitude of Nigerians to anything coming from the government as though such things are freebies.
He said the scheme would target 10,000 farmers; and it involves, among others, the distribution of about 100 trailers of NPK fertilizers and thousands of bottles of pesticides as loans that must be repaid fully by the farmers.
On her part, the managing director, Nigeria Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC), Folashade Joseph, said there was a need for more private sector-driven interventions in the agriculture industry.
She urged the farmers to key in into the risk management that NAIC offers, especially as the federal government already subsidised the premium on insurance in the agricultural industry by 50 per cent.