Abuja, Jan. 20, 2014 (NAN) President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday approved the disbursement of N14 billion for the expansion of 2014 dry season farming.
Jonathan gave the approval at the official launch of the Dry Season Farm Support Programme at the banquet hall of Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that in 2013 the sum of nine million naira was approved for the dry season farming.
He assured that the fund would continue to increase as more farmers key into the programme.
The president said that the Federal Government would ensure that the dry season food support programme becomes a national food policy of government.
Jonathan also directed the ministry to ensure that the programme would commence not later than October of a preceding year.
“Our resolve to expand this dry season programme is strong and subsequently it has to come up in October so that they will get all that we need before the commencement of the dry season.
“To demonstrate this, I am today announcing N14 billion to support dry seasoning farming for 2014 season.
“As more states come on board we will continue to increase the amount of money.
“We will continue to work with farmers and that is why I am announcing today that the support will become a national policy.
“Our nation shall be green, our barns shall be filled and our farmers shall prosper,’’ the president said.
The president said that the programme was launched in 2011 with the goal of adding an additional 20 million metric tonnes of food to the country’s domestic food supply.
He said 600,000 farmers, representing an increase of about 1.5 per cent over the numbers of participants in 2013, had already registered for the programme.
Jonathan said that the administration would continue to expand the Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES) to reach many more millions farmers.
“It is our hope that we will reach 10 million farmers by the end of this year with improved seeds, fertilisers and other production imputes, including farms machinery hiring centres.
“The ministry is working to establish centres where tractors can be accessed at reduced prices. We are working to improve the access of farmers to markets.’’
He also said the administration had completed silos across the country with a total capacity of 1.3 million metric tonnes.
The president said the silos would be used to support private sector efforts to establish world class agricultural exchanges.
Jonathan said that the government would encourage the establishment of marketing corporations to replace the former marketing boards.
According to him, it will help to improve markets and trade opportunities for farmers.
Earlier, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture, Rep. Mohammed Monguno, said that his committee would sponsor a Growth Enhancement Support Scheme bill aimed preventing policy somersault by successive government.
The Senate Committee Chairman on Agriculture, Sen. Emmanuel Bwacha, commended the GES and E-Wallet programmes of the government.
NAN reports that Governors of Kebbi, Gombe and Kogi were at the launch and shared the level of growth of agriculture in their states.
Beneficiaries of the GES were also on ground to share their experiences. The beneficiaries commended Jonathan’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda. (NAN)