Farmers face difficult planting season


• As Ogun, Imo, Others Yet To Take Delivery Of Fertiliser
• Enugu In Financial Straits To Source Agro Inputs

Farmers across the country are currently faced with different challenges, as the new planting season progresses, a development that might negatively affect this year’s yield, unless steps are taken to urgently address the challenges.

Of concern is the non-availability of inputs like fertiliser, coupled with absence of rain in some areas.

In March, the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative was kicked-off across the country, to ensure easy access by farmers to the product at affordable rate. It was meant to be sold for N5, 500 per bag, as against the normal price of N10, 000, but two months on, fertiliser is yet to get to some states as reported, and where available, they are sold beyond the subsidised N5, 500 price.

If feelers from Imo State are anything to go by, farmers are likely going to suffer serious setbacks this season. Those who spoke with The Guardian fear that this year’s farming may go on without the application of fertilisers.

According to Helen Onyeze, who disclosed that despite clearing her farmland, and getting ready to cultivate cassava, yam, and other crops, as the rains started, she is yet to get access to fertiliser, which she said will affect her plans for the year.

Another farmer, Oliver Enwerenem, said government at all levels must show commitment towards making fertiliser available to states at affordable prices.

“How can farmers plant if fertilisers are not available. They are not there and we require them to achieve bountiful harvest.”

The state Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Udo Mbu Agoha, told The Guardian that necessary documentations to access fertiliser from the Federal Government had been done, regretting that they were yet to arrive the state.

Said Agoha; “We are making necessary arrangements to make sure that we receive what other states will get. The state government has given incentives to farmers, such as distribution of seedlings, stems and tractor for hire to genuine farmers. We are hiring it out at the rate of N5, 000, instead of N10, 000 to farmers, to encourage them.”

It is a similar situation in Ogun, as the state is yet to take delivery of the much-hyped subsidised fertiliser. At the initial stage, it was rumoured that farmers were buying the product as high as N8, 500 per bag, as against the new price but a source from the state ministry of agriculture confirmed to The Guardian that they are yet to see the fertiliser.

One other constraint faced by farmers in the state is delayed rains. Even in areas where there is rainfall, it is said to be inadequate for cultivation and those who have planted have reported negative effect on crops.

For instance, at this time last year, farmers were harvesting maize in large quantity but at present only few have harvested.

One major challenge farmers in Enugu State face is finance to source agricultural inputs, especially to buy fertilisers. The Guardian learnt that the Federal Government allocated 20 trucks of fertiliser to about 20,000 farmers in the state for this year’s farming season. Each truck contains 600 bags and this brings the total at 12,000 bags for the state.

Although the number is said to be insufficient compared to the volume of farming activities in the state, farmers have no money to move the allocated product to the state.

It was gathered that though government approved price per bag is N5, 500, but because of logistics, farmers have been told to add N600 per bag, a development they said is better when compared to the N7, 500 it is being sold in the open market.

Fertilizer

Founder, Women in Agriculture and President, African Women Farmers, Mrs. Lovelyn Ejim told The Guardian that fertiliser allocation had not been secured because “we are yet to raise the money to pay.”

She stated that she had summoned a meeting of representatives of women farmers from the 17 local government areas to seek solution to the situation, stressing that they would require about N72m to secure the state’s allocation.

“We have started cultivation for now, but the approved fertiliser for
Enugu farmers have not been delivered because the farmers don’t have the money. We are meeting to find a way out. If it is buying individually, I know we can raise the money, but paying the lump sum once is very difficult,” She said.

Although the allocation is yet to arrive, Ejim said her executives have decided to allocate a truck of 600 bags to each of the 17 local government areas, stressing that though it will not be sufficient, they would request for more, when the tranche is exhausted.

She praised the Federal Government for the timely release, stressing that it was a major improvement from what they experienced last year, when majority of the farmers resorted to buying at N9, 000 per bag from the open market, until the subsidised allocation came in August.

Another farmer, Mrs. Georginia Okoye from Awgu local government area, who identified yam, cocoyam, rice, vegetable and beans as some of the crops cultivated by women, said their activities had been hindered by finance.

She said money was needed for mechanised agriculture, as well as, to contain disease outbreak in the farms, hiring of tractors for planting and clearing, among others.



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