15 million farmers are being targeted to benefit from the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) Scheme of the federal government this year, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has disclosed.
Explaining the ministry’s road map for the New Year, Adesina also said 400,000 farmers as against 240,000 in 2013, would be empowered to engage in the dry season rice production.
The minister, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media, Dr. Olukayode Oyeleye, disclosed that about 700,000 farmers had indicated interest in the dry season rice farming, but said provision was made for only 400,000.
He however stated that government might consider more farmers during the season.
Asked about the farmers’ challenges in redeeming inputs provided under the GES scheme, Adesina said the problem had been long surmounted.
“An off-line system through the use of paper voucher has been adopted to tackle the problem of poor GSM network, which had affected redemption of inputs by farmers in the past,” he said.
He noted that the scheme was designed to accommodate additional five million beneficiaries every year.
Adesina also said the initial reluctance of commercial banks to finance the GES had been addressed, as he said 14 commercial banks were involved towards the end of 2013.
The minister added that large scale millers, after series of meeting with the ministry, had been milling paddy rice produced by farmers at the end of the dry season farming period.