The Muhammadu Buhari led government has announced that it will launch the replacement of the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme known as the Agricultural Inputs Mechanisation and Management Services (AIMMS) by June.
Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said this while speaking with newsmen on the achievements of the current administration in the agriculture sector in three years.
GES was introduced by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan through his Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Akinwunmi Adesina.
On Monday in Abuja, Ogbeh said that the programme would enable famers to get subsidised and quality inputs in various Local Government Areas in the country.
According to him, at least four distributors of agriculture produce and service providers will be there to render services to farmers in every council area.
The minister, who said that AIMMS might not be as cheap and subsidised as the GES, expressed optimism that farmers would get value for their money.
Ogbeh said that AIMMS implementation would eradicate the act of selling substandard fertilisers, chemicals and seeds to farmers as all agro-dealers would be traced through the distributors.
“We are creating a new arrangement called AIMMS – Agricultural Inputs Mechanisation and Management Services.
“We are launching that before the middle of June so seed companies, fertiliser companies, chemical marketers will hand over inputs to distributors and farmers will have a place they can go and source for genuine inputs.
“Farmer may not like it now because it doesn’t look as cheap as the previous programme but we had a problem where the agro-dealers many of them were not delivering but were making claims.
“I will rather that farmers are sure of what they are getting.
“They will get the service and they will realize soon that whoever sells them fake fertilisers and chemicals, they can trace, because a lot of fake fertilisers are being sold by a few people, who are not authorised to blend fertilisers, but who are doing it as a flight by night business,’’ he said.
Explaining why the Federal Government under Buhari dropped the GES scheme, Ogbeh said, “I found on arrival that I owed N67 billion on GES claims and my budget was N33billlion as at then.
“I couldn’t pay and then the agro-dealers were demonstrating in front of my office. They even wrote that I had stolen N2billion from their money, they complained.
“I said that we can’t pay a debt of N67 billion which is twice my ministry’s budget and still continue with the programme.
“When we came in, some state governors said they had no money to pay their counterpart support of 25 per cent for GES, some of them said they couldn’t continue because the economy had crashed.
“Farmers don’t have to worry; we have their interest at heart.
“AIMMS will be easier for us to handle this way than for us to pay people who do not deliver but come to us with fake claims asking us to pay huge sums of money,’’ the minister explained.