By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Abuja, Oct. 11, 2021(NAN) Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says no fewer than 6.39 million farmers have been enumerated across states under the Economic Sustainability Plan(ESP)’ agriculture scheme.
Osinbajo disclosed this in his presentation on ESP at opening ceremony of a two-day Mid-Term Ministerial Performance Review Retreat on Monday at the State House Banquet Hall, Abuja.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in 2020 directed Osinbajo, who chaired the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC), to coordinate the implementation of the N2.3 trillion ESP aimed at cushioning the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The vice president said that the enumerated farmers had been verified and tagged to their lands through which they would get subsidies.
“Then, we had the agric scheme; we called it Agriculture for food and Jobs Plans.
“Part of the programme was the enumeration of farmers; we enumerated 6.39million farmers and these farmers were tagged to their lands.
“So, we have accurate record, verified by the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, of 6.39million farmers with their lands duly tagged.
“We know where their farms are and we know where their lands are; so far, 363million passed the first stage of validation and another 2.47million passed the second stage of validation.
“ We are validating them also for BVN; those who do not have BVNs are getting BVNs.’’
He said that 320 hectares of land had been cleared in some states at 40 hectares per state.
Osinbajo listed the states as Kwara, Plateau, Cross River, Edo, Kaduna, Ekiti and Osun States.
“These are states that require land clearing; N447 billion is allocated as loans to farmers across 14 crop value chains be it production, aqua culture and poultry farming.
“ But so far, only N14 billion has been disbursed to commercial banks and even this sum is yet to be utilised by farmers due to the late release for the 2021 wet farming season.’’
The vice president said there was also a Fertiliser Subsidy Programme.
He said that the strategy was to pay the amount of the subsidy directly into the BVN verified accounts of the beneficiaries.
Osinbajo said that another key component of the ESP was to build a resilient health system as the COVID-19 pandemic raged.
“The funds allocated to the health sector were for surveillance and epidemiology, establishing laboratories, point of entry management, infection prevention and control, health management, health related communications, research and development.
“After full implementation, what we expect to see—although already we have seen several of these—15 federal tertiary health institutions, the availability of PPAs in all federal health institutions, 520(Intensive Care Units(ICU) beds, 52 isolation wards, with 1040 beds, 52 molecular laboratories to carry out, on the average, 150 (Polymerase Chain Reaction(PCR) tests every day.
“The states are also building up their own capacity.
“Vaccines are being administered across the states; as at Sept. 28, 4.8million people or 4.3 per cent of the eligible population has received the first dose of the vaccine; 1.9million people or 1.8 per cent of the eligible population has received the second dose,’’ he said.
Osinbajo said the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Survival Fund component of the ESP was aimed at cushioning the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on small businesses.
He said that the support plan included the guaranteed off take scheme, the payroll support scheme, the artisan and transport support scheme, the general MSMEs grant and formalisation of companies support scheme.
According to him, 1.1 million people and businesses have so far benefitted from the MSMEs Survival Fund.
Earlier, in his speech, Akinwumi Adesina, President, African Development Bank (AfDB), said it was time to take bold policy measures to drive the structural transformation of agriculture, with infrastructure and spatial economic policies.
According to him, there is need to develop of Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) across the country.
“These will be zones enabled with infrastructure and logistics, to support private sector food and agriculture companies to locate close to the areas of production, and to process and add value to food and agricultural commodities.
“AfDB and its partners have already mobilised 520 million dollars towards the programme.
“We are working closely with the Federal Government, seven state governments, the Federal Capital Territory, the Ministries of Finance, Agriculture, Trade, Industry and Investment, Water Resources, and the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) on the design of these Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones.
“They are expected to create at least 1.5 million jobs,’’ he said.
He advised that Nigeria should establish SAPZs across the country.
Adesina also submitted that the e-Wallet System and Growth Enhancement Scheme, to boost farmers’ access to productivity enhancing farm inputs, should be reinstated and enshrined in law
By Chijioke Okoronkwo