By Ginika Okoye
Abuja, – Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, says the delay in the passage and release of the 2019 budget is hampering the timely implementation of agricultural activities.
Ogbeh told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday that the development was the major reason for the delay in the distribution of farm inputs to farmers for the 2019 wet season farming.
“We want them to prepare our budget with the ministry of works’ budget ahead of the others because the ministry of works can only work during the dry season.
“We can only prepare for the rainy season in the early month of January till March before the rains arrive, it is our challenge but we hope we will overcome it,’’ he said.
Ogbeh assured farmers that the ministry would commence distribution of the inputs as soon as the budget was released.
The minister also said that the ministry would soon commence the posting of extension agents employed under the N-Power programme of the Federal Government to various communities.
He said that the agents would be posted to their various localities and areas of familiarity for improved farming activities.
According to him, we don’t want people going to communities and having to use interpreters because it will increase the cost.
Ogbeh, who said the delay in the posting was due to the high cost of logistics, regretted that some state governments were not serious about agriculture.
“We are going to formalise it now and post them to communities, but we have to take people from the communities.
“Our budget is small and some of the states are not cooperating with the Federal Government.
“Only about 11 states are serious about agriculture, the rest are not,’’ he lamented.
On the commencement of the Agriculture Input Mechanisation and Management Services (AIMMS), a programme to replace the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme, he said the advertisement for the programme would commence next week.
He noted that GES allowed for a lot of theft and fraud, adding that the ministry was working toward addressing the issues.