Sunday Trust online

States not doing enough for smallholder farmers -ActionAid

The ActionAid Nigeria has said majority of the states are not fulfilling their pledges to the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GESS) for women and smallholder farmers thus denying them subsidized farm inputs especially fertilizers and seeds.

The Advisor, ActionAid Food and Agriculture Programme Mr. Azubuike Nwokoye, made the submission in Abuja at the “Dissemination of the outcome of the Community Participatory Assessment on Government Expenditure on Agriculture/Community Scorecards on the GESS”.
He said there are generally lack of transparency and accountability in the utilisation of the agriculture inputs subsidy fund by the states leading to high numbers of smallholder and women farmers that have neither registered nor benefitted from the scheme.
The GESS which has been in operation since 2012 is being powered by e-Wallet, an electronics distribution channel that sends text messages through mobile phones to registered farmers, who then go to redemption centres to purchase fertilizers at half the price and receive the seeds free.
“States should implement the 2006 Maputo agreement of 10 percent of State total budget for agriculture, progressively fund agriculture to sustain GESS and improve smallholder farmers’ productivity, commit to and practice transparency and accountability in the allocation and utilization of agriculture fund and GESS fund,” he said.
He said the assessment was aimed at identifying budget items allocated to the GESS programme for 2012 and 2013 fiscal year, analysing annual government expenditure (actual against budgeted) on the agricultural sector both at national and state level and ascertaining the level of government expenditure targets supporting smallholder famers especially women in the respective Public Financing Agriculture (PFA) states among others.
He also said that while some variables were improved upon from 2012 to 2013, many others dropped standard and evaluation in 2013 lower than what was obtainable in 2012.

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