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FADAMA III input providers in Enugu protest over N87.6 million debt

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Agricultural input providers under the FADAMA III Additional Financing (AF) in Enugu State have protested the non-payment of N87.6 million being the cost of ploughing and harrowing of rice farms for clusters in the state.

The input providers under the auspices of Association of FADAMA III AF Tractor Services Providers said that the failure of the National FADAMA Coordinating Office to pay had put them at daggers-drawn with their creditors.

Chief Mathias Omeh, the leader of the group, said this in a statement made available to newsmen on Friday in Enugu.

He said that the debts were incurred in 2017 farming season.

Omeh said that members of the association within the period were requested to provide tractorisation services to FADAMA III AF enrollees.

He said that the debt was expected to be settled from the 50 per cent International Donor Agency Fund for the ploughing and harrowing of rice farms for beneficiaries of the scheme.

“At the beginning of 2017 farming season, we were requested to provide tractorisation services to farmers due to a sharp increase in the number of enrollees in FADAMA III AF.

“We worked hard to assist the Federal Government agricultural programme and we individually hired more tractors from local government councils even in challenging conditions.

“We are disappointed by the deliberate refusal to pay us,” he said.

Omeh said that part of their overhead costs had yet to be covered, adding “our creditors have been on our neck for the money we borrowed to plough the rice farms.

“We are, therefore, shocked that the money that rightfully belongs to us has not been paid,” he said.

He blamed the failure of the FADAMA Project in the state on the national coordinating office inability to work effectively with input providers.

Omeh said that the project was not implemented in the state in 2018 and 2019 which he noted had affected rice production in the area.

When contacted, Oredipe said that it was not within his brief to know the people that were owed by the managers of the project.

“I represent the World Bank in this project. Those at the national office should know better,” Oredipe said.

However, an official of the national office who pleaded anonymity described the failure of the project in the state as a ‘national embarrassment’.

The official said that the state government as well as the managers of the project in the state did not do what were expected of them.

The source blamed the state government for the non-payment of counterpart funds that amounted to several millions of naira accumulated over four years.

The national officer said that the managers of the project in the state claimed to have spent several millions of naira which they expected the national office to offset.

“Some of the payments which had adequate documentation have been sorted out. There are no funds anywhere to make further payment and the project will be ending by December 2019,” the source said.

Edited by Maureen Atuonwu

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