By Evelyn Omotoye & Chris Chimezie
Arakunrin Akeredolu (SAN) (L) giving a cheque to one of the beneficiaries, Chief Ibikunle Oguniyi(R), while Mr Olotu (2ndL) others look on
Beneficiaries of the third National Fadama Development Project, Additional financing (Fadama III AF) in Ondo State were selected through due process and purely on merit.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Engr. Alex Aragbaiye stated this in an interview with The Hope during the official presentation of cheques and distribution of farm inputs to Fadama farmers in the state on wednesday.
Aragbaiye who noted that there are modalities in the selection of the farmers to benefit from the project maintained that it is only those who meet up with all the requirements that were shortlisted.
He added that is in accordance with the usual due processes in the previous phases of the Fadama project which is aimed at increasing the overall wellbeing of farmers in the scheme.
The Permanent secretary who pointed out that the project is not meant to fund farmers but to fund their farm to boost agriculture said the project is open to all interested farmers in the state and not for some selected people for selfish interest.
“Fadama project is not for some ‘special’ as some think but for interested farmers in the state who can go through the due process and meet up with all that is required of them.”
This is against the backdrop that the project is being packaged for self interest of the official involved as rumoured by some farmers who could not benefit from the scheme.
Aragbaiye explained, “we ensure adequate monitoring from the time of registration of interested farmers to the disbursement of fund and even to the utilisation on their farm land.
“Depending on the design of the phase of the project, we have a team that will go to the farm to see the land and check the documents to confirm that the farms truly exist. We also check the level of activities on the farm, the level of production and the problems the farmers are facing there to know where to come in.
“The farmers in the scheme are already being monitored because they are in clusters with coordinator and we can track their activities at any time on their farm,” he said.
Commending the efforts of the state government for its timely intervention in facilitating the Fadama III AF, the Permanent Secretary affirmed that the implementation of the Fadama in all its phases has been a great success in the state.
He therefore assured that the state ministry of Agriculture and the state fadama coordination office will continue to supervise fadama farmers to ensure funds and inputs are judiciously applied as intended.
The Ondo State project Coordinator of fadama III AF, Mr Olusoji Olatunji also cleared the air on the selection of the beneficiaries of the project to ensure non-farmers don’t hijack the fund meant for agribusiness.
This word: “the project is open to all. It is not politised or based on favourtism as some people believe it to be. We monitor all our farmers’ activities and we selected only those who showed interest and followed our guidelines consistently and meet up with our requirements
He emphasized that the scrutiny in selection of the Fadama farmers is imperative so as to ensure the funds get to the eligible persons in order to achieve the objectives of the project and not diverted to something else.
“We have a good record in the state on fadama project, hence the sustainability. The beneficiaries should utilize the fund appropriately like those in the past for the scheme to continue and for others who have not benefited to take part”, he advised.
One of the beneficiaries from Akure North local government of the state who is of the Igbo Ona production cluster Chief Ibikunle Ogunniyi stated that it may not be possible for non-farmer to take what belong to them, saying they recognize themselves and can fish out who is not in the system.
Ogunniyi, while appreciating the fadama team for the kind gesture and the financial assistance, encouraged other farmers to join fadama group to benefit as they have done to increase production and generate more income.