During a stakeholders meeting in Abuja held on the 12th July 2023, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, addressed a gathering of stakeholders involved in the implementation of the National Agricultural Growth Scheme and Agro-pocket (NAGS-AP) in the ATASP-1 states of Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Niger, and Sokoto. He emphasized that the scheme aims to provide small-scale farmers with essential farm inputs, including fertilizers, seeds, and agrochemicals for both wet and dry season farming.

Representing Dr. Umakhihe at the meeting was Dr. Ibrahim Tanimu, the Director of Planning and Policy Coordination at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.  NAGs-AP is an ICT-based platform designed to deliver farm inputs, such as fertilizers, seeds, and agrochemicals, to farmers across the country.

The primary objective of the National Agricultural Growth Scheme (NAGS) is to increase food production and counter the ongoing rise in agricultural commodity prices. Dr. Umakhihe highlighted that the focus is on enhancing the production of wheat, rice, maize, sorghum, and soybeans by providing relevant farm inputs to small-scale farmers. The NAGS targets over 250,000 wheat farmers, cultivating 250,000 hectares with an expected output of 1,250,000 metric tons of wheat. Institutional support will enhance performance.

He further stated that the meeting aimed to examine the SOP and Operational Modalities of NAGS-AP to address weaknesses and ensure scheme integrity. Full compliance with reforms is crucial to preserve the scheme’s sustainability and gain support from Nigerians and international partners.

Mr. Mohammad Sani, the Director of the Farm Inputs Support Services Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, explained that the NAGS scheme was reintroduced to address the needs of various value chain players. The ministry intends to collaborate with relevant organizations to help farmers achieve their goals and create a favorable business environment for input operators.

During the meeting, Mr. Ibrahim Arabi, the National Programme Coordinator of Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Phase One (ATASP-1), emphasized the need to increase production capacity throughout the value chain. He stressed that the meeting focused on devising strategies to support farmers with subsidized inputs and enhance institutional capacity for improved productivity.