The Federal Government yesterday said that 20 million farmers across the country would benefit from its subsidy on fertiliser and seeds in the next four years, five million farmers per year.
Currently, only 550,000 farmers are getting subsidised seeds and fertiliser.
This is part of its Growth Enhancement Support (GES), Programme embedded in the on-going Agriculture Transformation Agenda (ATA).
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, revealed this during the D-8 Private Sector/Investment Workshop on Gene Bank Development and Management of Fertiliser Production in Abuja.
He said: “Similar efforts are being made to establish a National Seed Bank in Nigeria to maintain the genetic diversity of the plant resources. These diverse plant genetic resources are faced with threats and extinction due to agricultural activities, urbanisation, deforestation and other human activities as well as natural disasters. It is on record that Nigeria possesses more than 5,000 recorded species plant and it is estimated that 0.4 per cent of the plant species are threatened, 8.5 per cent endangered.”
In the area of fertiliser market, the minister maintained that Nigeria’s potential fertiliser demand averages 7.9 million MT per annum of fertiliser products. Presently, local production falls far below the demand presenting the need for investment in fertiliser production.
Speaking further, Adesina said that government has paid adequate attention to seed and fertiliser distribution and marketing not only in the provision of infrastructural facilities but in extending financial incentives to Agro-dealers by providing them with bank loans at reduced interest rate of 7 per cent and 70 per cent guarantee under the new policy.
On his part, the President of Fertiliser Producer Association (FPA), Mr. Thomas Etuh, disclosed that much of the fertiliser used in the country were mostly imported, adding that there were limited local manufactures, “presently there are 3.5m estimate fertiliser market, only 600 tonnes were being utilised yearly, fertiliser does not come until August, while 40 to 70 per cent goes to fertiliser subsidy, only 9.1 per cent is left for small-scale farmers.”