Farmers fault FG, govt claims six million operators registered

Farmers fault FG, govt claims six million operators registered

The Presidency and the All Farmers’ Association of Nigeria on Wednesday clashed over the Federal Government’s claim on the registration of farmers.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Agriculture, Andrew Kwasari, in an interview with The PUNCH, said more than six million farmers had been registered by the Federal Government for the purpose of giving them subsidy.

But the  National President of AFAN, Kabir Ibrahim, told The PUNCH that the association was not aware of the programme.

He stated that what should be of importance to government was how to address rising food prices caused by insecurity.

Ibrahim added that government should not claim it had spent billions of naira on data capturing of farmers.

Also, cotton growers said they were not involved in the exercise.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, had at the fourth meeting of the National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development on June 17, said  government had created an online portal to register  10 million farmers, adding that the exercise would capture their biographies, geographical information of their farmlands, crops, and volumes of what they could produce.

According to him, the database will be a platform for Federal Government interventions and put an end to ghost schemes and other unscrupulous practices in the agricultural industry.

He disclosed that the programme initially planned to capture 2.4 million farmers across the country, but the results from it encouraged government to expand the target to 10 million.

But the National President of AFAN, Ibrahim, in the interview with The PUNCH, denied knowledge of the exercise.

He said, “I am not aware of any of such and we have not been registered. We are not part of what they are doing.

“I think what should be of importance to government now is how to address the rising food prices occasioned by the inability of farmers to go to their farms due to insecurity.

“They should not come and tell us that they are spending billions to capture farmers’ data or to registers farmers in Nigeria. We are not aware or part of it.”

Also, the Lagos State Chairman of the association, Chief Femi Oke, said he was not aware of the programme. “I am not aware of any registration or data capturing exercise yet,” he said.

In Bauchi State, the Chairman of the association,  Mahmoud Yakubu, in an interview with The PUNCH, stated, “In my capacity as Chairman of Bauchi state farmers’ association, I am not aware of that. Just as you heard it  was how I also heard it. What I am saying is that the Federal Government is supposed to carry us along.

“Before we are registered, the organ responsible will give us the terms of reference and from there, we will know what to expect but I can’t just say this is what we will expect without knowing what they want to do.”

His counterpart in Osun State, Alhaji Sulaimon Araokanmi, said the only registration done by farmers in the state was for those that recorded losses during #EndSARS protest and  flooding of 2020.

He said, “We have 52 commodities in the state and every commodity has a leader.  I am the overall leader of all the farmers in the state. We have representatives for yam farmers, poultry farmers, fish farmers and others. So, I may not know if members of sub-groups under AFAN have been asked to register.”

“The registration that I am aware of in the state is for those affected by flood last year and it was done throughout the country. Those that suffered losses during #EndSARS protest were also told to register.”

Also, the Chairman of Cotton Farmers’ Association in the state, Sulaimon Akande, said members of his group were not aware of any registration by either the state or the Federal Government.

But the Chairman of the Cross River State branch of the Rice Farmers’ Association of Nigeria, Oliver Ntui, when contacted on the phone, said he was aware of the registration, but his association was not involved.

Also, his counterpart in  Sokoto State, Saliu Ibrahim, said there were various forms of registration, which rice farmers in the state were involved.

Ibrahim, who spoke to one of our correspondents on the phone said, “Yes, rice farmers in Sokoto have been involved in various registration, be it the Anchor Borrower Scheme and various farmers groups.”

The Chairman of AFAN in Benue State, Aondongu Saaku, told The PUNCH   that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture was in charge of the registration of farmers in the state.

The AFAN boss said that the registration was being done in conjunction with Benue State Rural  Agricultural Development Agency.

He explained that the farmers were expected to be given fertilisers and some farming tools. He stated, “The registration is not done by AFAN but by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and BERNADA.”

We’ve registered six million, only political farmers denying exercise, says Buhari’s aide

The  Director of  Information in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Theodore Ogaziechi, told one of our correspondents that the registration was being handled by the Presidency.

“That thing is being done in the Presidency and is headed by the President’s special assistant on agriculture. I think you should call him as that is his project,” Ogaziechi said.

When contacted, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Agriculture,  Kwasari, took a swipe at associations, which stated that they were not aware of the registration.

In the interview with The PUNCH,  he insisted that over six million farmers had been captured regardless of the denial by the associations.

Registration not for political farmers, subsidy will be given to genuine ones, not ghosts, says presidential aide

When told that many farmers denied knowledge of the registration by government, Kwasari said, “I don’t know what farmers you are talking about now because in Nigeria there are political farmers and there are farmers.

“We’ve captured over six million and very soon we will be giving direct subsidy to registered farmers. So let’s wait and see whether spirits will be the ones to receive the subsidy.”

Again when reminded that AFAN said it was unaware of the programme, the presidential aide argued that he visited the president of the association to show him the number of registered farmers in Nigeria.

Kwasari said, “I told you that we have political farmers and they will tell you that they are not aware. I went to their president, where he was lodging in Garki (Abuja), I even took the list of his own state of over 400,000 farmers registered in Katsina.

I visited, challenged association head to call any of 400,000 farmers on the phone – Presidential aide

“I said he should call any of those 400,000 persons. I was in his hotel room for two and half hours with the entire volumes of his state. We have the database of all the farmers in the 36 states and Abuja and this is by wards and local governments.”

The AFAN president, however, countered the claims of Kwasari, as he told The PUNCH that no farmer had said he was captured despite claims by the government.

Ibrahim said, “He (Kwasari) came to my hotel room and spent two and half hours with documents that he said they had used to register farmers, but I was not convinced.

“I am the president of all farmers’ association and we have chapters in the 36 states and in the 774 local governments.  If they are actually registering farmers, don’t you think one farmer will call me or call one of the executives to tell us that farmers are being captured?

“Nobody, no single farmer has called me or any of our executives to say that farmers are being captured.”

Ibrahim explained that a meeting was held sometime ago on the issue. He said the meeting involved the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President and some governors.

At a meeting with Presidency officials, Kebbi gov said no registration was done – Association

He said, “They brought out what they had done. The Governor of Kebbi State said as far as the governors were concerned, there was no such thing going on.

“They said they were working with commissioners and directors of agriculture, but the governor said the commissioner for agriculture works directly with him and that the commissioner told him (governor) that he (commissioner) was not aware.”

Ibrahim stated that the governors made it clear that they were not aware during the meeting, stressing that it looked as if it was only Kwasari and the agric minister were the ones running the registration. How much are you (the officials) spending per person? The EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) is looking at this issue.

“You are on one side saying farmers are being captured, while farmers are on the other side saying they are not being captured.”

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