Mr Ohiare Jatto, the Director, Farm Input Support Services, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said the scheme, which is under the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) was delayed by the N39 billion outstanding to Agro dealers.
The payment to Agro dealers, Jatto said was due to the lateness in the release of 2017 budget.
“We still owe agro dealers a lot of money and we want to clear the debt as soon as we have money to enable them to participate in the programme,’’ he said.
Jatto said the Federal Government had settled part of the debt owed during the 2014 wet season and 2014/2015 dry season farming, but the money paid was insignificant
“There will be farm inputs for farmers this year but the timing is the factor.
“We are still hoping to start inputs distribution between the last week of July and first week of August, all things being equal, if we are able to pay the agro dealers.
“We know that agriculture is time-bound and we are bothered. We are thinking that by now, money would have been released but up till now, it has not been released and this is delaying our operations.
“This has been the problem; the Federal Ministry of Finance has commenced the payment but the money released was small because some of the agro dealers are already indebted to banks.
“ The government agreed to pay them in instalments for the 2014 and 2014/2015 wet and dry season farming until the whole debt is cleared.
“For the 2016/2017 dry season farming, we are planning to pay them 100 per cent.
“We are planning to reach about 300,000 to 500,000 farmers during the programme,’’ he said.
Agro dealers had in May staged a protest, asking the Federal Government to settle their N39 billion claims from the GES scheme.
The Federal Government had, however, approved N12.5 billion as part-payment for the claims.