After three years, FG replaces GES with AIMS
Three years after the cancellation of the Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES) the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development said plans are ongoing to replace the program with Agricultural Input and Mechanisation Services (AIMS).
AIMS according to the Minister would involve the recruitment, training and support of three agricultural distributors in each local government area and the distributors would be provided with certified seeds, fertilizers, farm equipment, such as tractors, threshers among others for onward lending to farmers.
The new program is a clear departure from the GES, wherein farmers were able to access improved seeds and fertilizer at 50 per cent subsidised rate, but the minister said the AIMS program would have a bit of subsidy.
The GES program was the high point of the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration and was applauded by stakeholders, including farmers as an effective way of reaching farmers with improved seeds and fertilizer.
While explaining reasons for cancellation of the GES program, the minister said government does not have enough funds to continue the program, as it was fraught with fraudulent practices by agro dealers who want to claim money for the inputs not supplied.
He said: “When we resumed office we were confronted with the debt to the tune of N67b, which we could not pay because if we had paid we would not have been able to pay staff salaries, but AIMS would correct all the anomalies of GES and remove fraud practices.”