Nigeria’s agricultural productivity would improve when farmers have access to high quality inputs, according to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Mr. Ohiara Jatto, the Director, Farm Inputs Support Services (FISS) in the ministry, stated this in Abuja on Friday at the Agro-Input Dealer Certification and Training, organised by the International Fertiliser Development Centre (IFDC).
Jatto said that the role of agro-input dealers was critical in bridging the gap between the up-stream suppliers and the farmers.
He said one of the objectives of the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) Scheme was to facilitate the development of private sector marketing channels for agricultural inputs.
Within the last four years, the government supported the private sector in building robust channels for distribution of inputs such as seeds, fertilisers, agro-chemicals, livestock and fingerlings to farmers, he said, adding that it led to the emergence of a large army of agro-dealers, estimated at between 3,000 and 5,000,“ he said.
Jatto said that majority of the agro-input dealers do not have any formal training on the product they sell, and therefore, could not provide necessary advisory services to the farmers they serve.
He added that they were the reasons why several fake and adulterated fertilisers, seeds, agro-chemicals and other sharp practices were going on in the sector.
“With the absence of fertiliser law in the country to control nutrient content, contaminants, bag and container weight, false and misleading claims, we discovered farmers do not get value for their money,” he added.
Jatto, however, said that the Ministry of Agriculture had recently inaugurated the National Fertiliser Technical Committee, charged with the responsibility of following up fertiliser legislation and quality control.
The director said that it was expected that the agro-input dealers association would support the regulatory agencies to police their members to ensure they adhere to high quality standards in order to serve farmers effectively.
Mr. Saidu Zakari, President, Nigeria Agro-Input Dealers Association, said they were in Abuja for the event of certification of their members after undergoing three days training organised by the IFDC.
Zakari said the project started in 2002 and was still ongoing after 14 years.
The agro dealers will benefit from this training by selling their goods and make more money for themselves because they were being taught on how to preserve and store their inputs properly, he said.