We Spent N2.5b on Bush Clearing, N16.4b on Soil Sampling – FMARD

 

Alt: = "Minister of Agriculture"

Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has said it spent N18.9 billion on farmers’ registration, soil sampling, mapping, and rehabilitation, among other things, in addition to clearing bush during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The spokesman of the ministry, Joel Oruche disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja.

The ministry came under criticism by Nigerians following the House of Representatives' probe hearing, that raised doubts about the bush-clearing project of the ministry.

“During the lockdown of the country as a result of COVID-19, some companies took contracts worth about N18 billion for bush clearing from the federal ministry of agriculture for land preparation, rehabilitation of soil plant lab and others. We cannot shave their heads in their absence,” said Wole Oke, chairman of the House of Representatives committee on public accounts. “We have invited them to come and give us their own side by responding to the issues and show us the places they are supposed to have cleared. They have to take us to the land they cleared”

The ministry in  a statement on Wednesday said the government spent only N2.5 billion on bush clearing and land preparation of 3,200 hectares in eight states (Osun, Ekiti, Edo, Cross River, Kaduna, Kwara, Plateau and Ogun).

Oruche further explained that the ministry carried out other projects during the COVID–19 period that cost the government N18.9 billion, including rural road construction in the country’s six geopolitical zones. Other expenses were made on soil sampling and mapping, farmers registration and rehabilitation and equipping of four national soil laboratories in Umudike, Ibadan, Kaduna and Abuja.

“The ministry wishes to state that if the statement emanated from the House Public Account Committee, the committee must have been quoted out of context. To put the record straight, however, the ministry at no time received any audit query to warrant summon by the committee,” the statement said.

FMARD explained that these projects were part of a stimulus package under President Muhammadu Buhari’s Agriculture for Food and Jobs Programme to generate employment and grow the economy to mitigate the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Last week, some of the enumerators engaged by FMARD under the Agriculture for Food and Job Programme to carry out famers enumeration, farm mapping and soil sample collection, received part of the payment of  work they did since 2020 to 2021. Business Compiler learnt that the enumerators were paid N500 for each survey.


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