♦ whistleblower number on the bag not connecting
♦ report to security agencies -FEPSAN
The Federal Government’s Presidential Fertiliser Initiative designed to get fertilizer to smallholder farmers at the approved prices has been hijacked by middlemen, our investigation has shown.
A bag of the NPK 20:10:10 brand is supposed to sell at the approved price of N5,500 each.
Howerver, reports from states indicate that farmers now buy the product at between N6,500 and N7,000 while the whistleblower number inscribed on the bag to forestall malpractices is not responding.
Many farmers across the country, confirmed that the whistleblower number is not active as several attempts to call the line failed.
Professor Salihu Dadari, a researcher with the Institute of Agricultural Research who is also a lecturer at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, told Daily Trust that he witnessed the fraudulent activities marring the government fertiliser sales when he went to buy the product.
He said: “I bought some bags at the initial the rate of N5,500 in my village. But when I went back to buy it again the situation had changed. I was there when the lorries came and after offloading, I asked for some bags to buy to apply in my farm, the agro dealer asked me to come back after a while. When I came back, he said he had already distributed the consignment to his agents.
“He referred me to the agents and they asked me to pay N6,050, while another agent said I should pay N6000. You find out that they have added N1000 to the government price,” he noted.
Professor Dadari expressed worry that the Federal Government’s fertilizer is now between N6,500 and N7,000. And the GSM number is not connecting; it has been demobilized.
“I tried calling the number severally, it’s not working. I think the way forward is to put all hands on deck in helping the government. Also, some people get the fertilizer, open it and mix it with sand, which they re-bag in their own bags which are similar to the original one,” he added.
In many parts of Katsina State, a bag of the Federal Government fertiliser goes for N6,200 instead of N5,500 approved price and at the open market, NPK 15:15:15 (Magic) goes for N8,000; Elephant brand, N7,700; Olam N7,800; Urea (Notore), N7,100; and Indorama, N7,000.
In Benue State, a bag of the government fertiliser is being sold for as high as between N6,500 and N7,500, same as is obtainable in the open market.
In Adamawa State, findings indicate that the government subsidized fertiliser is out of the reach of a majority of the farmers.
Abdullahi Maikano, former chairman of Rice Farmers Association in the state, said the state government officially pegged fertiliser price per bag at N6,110 but the commodity could not reach the real farmers.
Similarly, in Sokoto State, farmers are said to have resorted to the open market to get fertiliser as the government subsidized ones are yet to get to them.
At the open market, a bag of the commodity is sold at between N7,200 to N7,500 depending on brand.
At the building materials market in Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State, the secretary, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Mohammed Fodio Umar, told Daily Trust that some fertiliser dealers in the market were selling at between N5,700 and N5,800. Marketers are reported to have added N300 per bag to cover cost of transportation.
In Kebbi State, farmers are said to be buying the commodity at the open market N6,500 and N8,000 per bag depending on brand.
The government subsidized ones are pegged at the N5,500 but mostly not accessible to the farmers.
In Kwara State, the FG subsidized fertiliser is sold for as high as N7,000 per bag and are not available in many parts of the state. Farmers, who complained bitterly over the development, said they were forced to patronize the open market, where it is sold as high as between N7500 and 8,000.
In Kogi State, the FG fertiliser pegged at N5,500 is not accessible to farmers. Investigation by one of our reporters shows that farmers in the state had resorted to open market, where the product is being sold between N6,500 and N7,000.