BY CALEB AYANSINA
ABUJA—The National Association of Nigeria Traders, NANTS, has said that the ‘One Stop Agro Input Centre’ established by the federal government has remained moribund because the government failed to provide requisite amenities that will make it functional.
The centres, created to provide inputs such as fertilizer, agrochemicals, tractor services, microfinance, insurance and business development, are no doubt critical factors for agro-based employment generation.
Unfortunately, both the pilot project as the one at Dafara in Kuje Local Area Council of the FCT and the 80 additional centres created across the country are still moribund or operating below capacity with only fertilizer being sold there.
President of NANTS, Mr. Ken Ukaoha, who disclosed this during a stakeholders’ consultative workshop on ‘One Stop Agro Input Centre’, organised by the association in Abuja, also said the centres were established without the knowledge of farmers, the main people that will make use of it.
Ukaoha, who decried the lack of infrastructure at the centre, noted that farmers themselves could not access the place, let alone private bodies that will make available services at the centre.
He said the idea behind the centre was to be sustained through public private sector initiative, but noted that there was little or no patronage and advocacy on the centre by private sector due to lack necessary infrastructure to make it functional.
He wondered how the centre would attract collaboration when some of them were established without even a road network.
According to him, some of them are still in existence because of the intervention from the Federal Public Administration Reform in Nigeria (FEPAR) and other partners, urging FEPAR not pull out of the project as being insinuated.
He said if the centres were made to function effectively, they would enhance the ongoing Growth Enhancement Scheme, GES, explaining that it was discovered that one major problem farmers were facing was distance to redemption centre in GES programme.
According to him, this informed the need for a functional agro-centre.
NANTS President called on government and other relevant bodies not to abandon the centres but make it attractive for private bodies to come in, promising that the association would not relent in its efforts to sensitize farmers on products and services available for them.
Also speaking, the National Programme Manager of FEPAR, Ben Arikpo, debunked report that they are pulling out of the programme, but noted that they were reshaping the level of participation to make it driven by PPP initiative.
He said the project cannot be sustained in its present stage; therefore, there is need for all stakeholders to restrategise for meaningful sustainability.
“We along with other stakeholders want to carry out visibility study on the centre to know if is sustainable at its current stage for the private sector, if it is not, then, we need to restrategise,” Arikpo said.