The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, through the National Agricultural Growth Scheme and Agropocket (NAGS-AP), has initiated the distribution of subsidised farm inputs to smallholder farmers across the northwestern states.
The aim is to boost food and nutrition security, attract private sector investment, reduce post-harvest losses and add value to local agricultural produce.
During the flag-off ceremony held at Bunkure local government area, Kano State, the governor of Kano State, Engr. Abba Yusuf, acknowledged that NAGS-AP is being implemented through the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Programme Phase One (ATASP-1) of the Federal Government of Nigeria, funded by the African Development Bank. He emphasised that this pilot phase would pave the way for the successful implementation of the forthcoming Policy Based Operation.
The Policy Based Operation (PBO) is a sector budget support (SBS) operation prepared under the African Emergency Food Production Facility (AEFPF) and funded by a loan from the African Development Bank. It will be implemented across the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory for two years, beginning in 2023.
The main objective of NAGS-AP is to ensure food and nutrition security, contribute to employment generation, create wealth for targeted beneficiaries (along rice, sorghum and cassava value chains on a sustainable basis) and attract private sector investments in agriculture. The benefiting communities are from Bunkere Rano, Bagwai, Dawakin Kudu, Bebeji and Garun Malam local government areas of Kano State.
The permanent secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, represented by the director of projects coordination department (PCU), Mr. Bukar Musa, stated that the event was of great importance for the ministry as it would drive agricultural production and guarantee access to quality agricultural inputs such as fertiliser, seeds and pesticides, whose distribution was being flagged off.
The programme is designed to support 60,000 farmers in the five ATASP-1 states with highly subsidised inputs to help increase their production levels and achieve economic well-being while also contributing substantially to the national agricultural product output. The government is committed to paying 80 per cent of the total cost of the input package, while each participating farmer is expected to pay the 20 per cent balance for the redemption of their inputs at the redemption centre.
To increase transparency, accountability and efficiency in the input delivery process, the government has approved the introduction and use of an ICT platform for the delivery of inputs to farmers. The platform, known as the National Agricultural Growth Scheme and Agro-Pocket (NAGS & AP), will be utilised for this exercise and in the future.
Umakhihe urged the benefiting farmers to fully utilize the inputs on their farms to increase their farm output, leading to higher farm income. He also emphasised the importance of resisting any temptation to engage in input round-tripping, as anyone caught doing so will be subject to legal consequences.
The national programme coordinator of ATASP-1, Dr. Ibrahim Arabi highlighted that the global challenges of Covid-19, insecurity and food insecurity had led the government to restructure ATASP-1 to provide initial funding for the implementation of NAGS-AP. The primary objective is to improve the production and productivity of staple food crops to mitigate the food insecurity situation in the country.
NAGS-AP will be implemented in five states: Niger State, Kano State, Jigawa State, Sokoto State and Kebbi State, focusing on promoting rice, sorghum and maize crops.
The event saw the symbolic flag-off of the distribution of farm inputs to smallholder farmers by the Kano State governor. Several stakeholders, including the Kano State commissioner of agriculture, traditional rulers and relevant farmer associations, were in attendance. This initiative promises to make a significant impact on agricultural productivity and the livelihoods of farmers across the northwest region.