Some farmers in the South-East geopolitical zone have identified policy inconsistency as the major impediment to sustainable growth in the country’s agricultural sector.
The stakeholders, operating under the aegis of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), said that agriculture had experienced some ups and downs under different policy frameworks in the post-independence era.
They spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria on how agriculture has fared in terms of its prospects and challenges in the past 62 years.
The Chairman of AFAN in Imo, Dr Vitus Enwerem, said that the country had performed considerably well in agriculture since it gained independence on Oct. 1, 1960. “We cannot say that we have not done well because we have recorded some successes in rice and cassava production and other value chain programmes,” Enwerem said.
He, however, argued that the progressive trajectory in the sector had suffered a major setback due to policy inconsistencies and insecurity.
He said that the situation where people sit down in Abuja to initiate policies on agriculture and impose them on farmers at the state and local government levels had not yielded the much expected gains.
“Nigeria started with Operation Feed the Nation and Green Revolution, amongst other beautiful programmes, but did not succeed because the farmers were not part of the policy formulation.
“But, if we adopt a bottom-top approach, where farmers are involved from policy conception and formulation to implementation, things would be better.
“Any policy that does not put the interest of the rural farmer into consideration does not appeeciate the farmer as the driver of the policy, hence it would not be easy to implement,” he said.
Enwerem also said that the rising security challenges in different parts of the country had seriously hampered growth in the agricultural sector.
Enwerem said, “Even here in Imo, I usually pray before I go to my farm to avert any impending danger on the way.
” He said that the country might face food crisis should the present security challenges be left unresolved.
Also, Chief Dunlop Okoro, the South-East Coordinator of AFAN, said that agriculture was the mainstay of the country’s economy before and immediately after independence.
Okoro told NAN in Umuahia that the independence struggle by the country’s nationalists was funded with resources from agriculture.
He regretted that successive administrations in the country had continued to evolve different agricultural policies that made little or no appreciable impact.
He blamed the development on the lack of continuity in policies and their implementation.
Okoro said that after independence, the regional governments developed their respective agricultural sectors in a competitive manner, especially in the areas they had comparative advantage.
He said that the regions made remittances to the Federal Government’s coffers from the agricultural boom.
According to him, the east was famous in oil palm production, while the West and North were known for cocoa and groundnut pyramid, respectively, among other agricultural products.
He regretted that the discovery of oil led to the neglect of the agriculture sector, making the country a mono-economy.
“There is always a change of policies by successive administrations in the country and this is not good for agriculture.
“Every administration wants to have their own roadmap for agriculture because they know money will be released for it.
“They do not want to follow up on the existing policies which the farmers are already used to,” Okoro said.
He argued that the disruptions in policy implementation had hampered sustainable growth in the sector.
The respondents, therefore, urged the Federal Government to develop long term agricultural development plan that can continue to run even after the life of an administration.
The Benue Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Mr Aondongu Saaku, has said women contribute 80 per cent to agricultural production, particularly in Nigeria.
Saaku stated this at a Food Security Town Hall meeting organised by Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation of Nigeria (SWOFON) on Thursday in Makurdi.
He said that women were the back-bone of agricultural production in the country, stressing that sadly, they were still using crude farm implements.
The AFAN chairman sued for support from both government and other agriculture-based organisations to enable them to produce enough food for the country.
The Director, Agricultural Services, state Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Thomas Unongo, said that the ministry was giving women adequate and preferential treatment to encourage them to continue to produce food for the nation.
Unongo said that the ministry was gender-sensitive and was always ready to address issues relating to women.
“We have directed the agricultural officers in the 23 Agriculture Redemption Centres across the state to give priority to women during inputs distribution,” Unongo said.
Unongo promised that the ministry would continue to support women by making inputs available to them on time.
Also, the Chairman of Oju Local Government Area of the state, Mrs Evelyn Okwe, lamented that women were denied access to farm lands, stressing that such development was hampering agricultural activities.
Okwe called for a change of attitude by men who were responsible for the trend, adding that women should be allowed to inherit lands.
She pledged that she would join forces with the other eight female chairmen in the state to support women in the sector.
Some farmers and experts in agriculture in the South-West zone have identified post-harvest losses as a major factor militating against food security in Nigeria.
The farmers and agricultural experts, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria in Oyo, Ondo, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti and Kwara states, called for urgent actions to address the food scarcity currently ravaging the country.
Mr Segun Dasaolu, Deputy National President of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), told NAN in Abeokuta that the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) needed to be resuscitated.
This, he said, would further re-invigorate the food system and speed up the attainment of food security in the country.
Dasaolu also called on the Federal Government to restore grain reserves and set up additional silos, particularly in the food producing local government areas across the six geo-political zones.
According to him, this will check post-harvest losses and wastages and thus help to salvage the current food crisis before it got out of hands.
Dasaolu who noted that losses could occur at various stages of agricultural chain, including harvest, drying, transportation, storage and market stages, urged government to address the various stages in order to reduce post-harvest losses.
According to him, government should also recover all the leased silos, mop up available crops, add value and store adequately to arrest future food shortages.
Prof. Kolawole Adebayo of Department of Agricultural Extension and Rural Development of Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNNAB), decried what he called abandonment of food reserves in the country.
He said that it was imperative for the country to revive food reserves in form of silos and other storage facilities.
“Only when this is put in place can the country enjoy adequate food security,” he said.
The professor of agricultural extension also advised government to put in place a mechanism where buyers could get commodities directly from farmers during harvest and store the remaining to prevent post-harvest losses.
“Every commodity has a harvesting period during which the products are always available in excess.
“One of the best strategies we can adopt as a nation is to have an arrangement where we can buy up all the excesses during the harvest and process them for storage.
“After the period of harvest, we can then begin to release them gradually from the reserves and this is where the concept of food reserves comes from.
“Over the years, we, as a nation, have abandoned our food reserves and I think this is the time to revive those reserves for every commodity that is produced in this country,” he said.
Corroborating Adebauoyo’s views, Secretary of AFAN, Ogun chapter, Mr Abiodun Ogunjimi, stressed the need for food reserves in the agricultural sector, adding that the few available reserves had been taken over by the private sector and therefore, not beneficial to farmers.
He noted that most farmers did not have access to the few available storage facilities constructed by the federal government, as they had been concession to private operators.
“The private investors are only out to maximise profit and as such, farmers cannot gain much from partnering with them,” he said.
Ogunjimi urged government to provide silos at designated areas close to farmers and revive the few ones that had become moribund.
The Vice Chairman, Rice Farmers’ Association (RIFAN), Ogun chapter, Alhaji Monsuru Adebayo, also opined that food reserves needed to be revitalised in the country.
According to him, farmers need silos close to them to store excess produce so as to prevent post-harvest wastages.
“Farmers don’t need too big silos, but the available ones should be located near them.
Unfortunately, most of the existing ones are very far from the farmers and the roads are bad, thereby making transportation difficult.
“To minimise post-harvest losses, governm should revive all the strategic food reserves across the country because most of them are presently not functional,” he added.
An Economic Analyst, Mr Bright Oleka, blamed Nigeria’s current food crisis on the security challenge currently facing the country.
He warned that if the security challenge was not addressed, it would be difficult to attain food security and improve the economy.
Oleka noted that most of the grains were produced from the northern part of the country where the insecurity was most pronounced.
“Before food can be stored in strategic silos, they have to be harvested from the farms and evacuated to the sites where they are to be stored.
“A situation where the farms and the roads have been taken over by hoodlums will make effective harvest and proper storage difficult to achieve,” the economic analyst said.
The AFAN Chairman in Oyo State, Mr John Olateru, urged the government to strategically beef up food reserves by getting back all the silos that had been sub-leased to private investors, stressing: “this is one of the reasons for food scarcity in the country.
” He noted that some of the silos leased to some private firm were not being used for the desired purpose.
“All those companies do is to mop up all they want to buy.
They don’t care about the prices or other things; they only use their activities to disrupt the market.
“Government must, of necessity, get all its silos back so as to use them to ensure food reserves,” he said.
Olateru, who lauded the government for inaugurating a committee saddled with the responsibilities of purchasing food produce from farmers towards ensuring food reserves, urged the committee to involve farmers’ associations in order to be effective.
“This is a welcome idea because it is during the harvesting period that prices crash due to low demands.
If the committee can do the mop up then, that will help farmers a lot.
“It will also help in stabilising the prices and encourage farmers to continue their business,” he said.
An Ilorin-based commercial farmer, Mr Tope Abolade, said that crops storage and preservation, as a precaution against food scarcity and post-harvest wastages, was a good method to sustain food security.
He advised Nigerians to willingly get involved in farming, with the mindset that the consuming population was high.
Abolade decried situations where farming was still perceived as an occupation for people of low class or the unemployed.
“History has shown that in a typical traditional society, food security used to be at the family level, although it was also seen as a collective responsibility by the community.
“It is believed that the colonial administration introduced the idea of state food security to replace the traditional food security system.
“At independence, government took over the responsibility of feeding the nation to ensure that there was enough food in state granaries to avert hunger”, he said.
Abolade listed other factors undermining the agricultural sector to include: political instability, unfavorable policies, challenges of land tenure system, poor credit facilities, bad roads as well as absence of technical know-how, farming equipment and storage facilities.
“Government must make up for the past and deal with the present, without forgetting the future.
“We must, however, appreciate the federal government for improving the face of agriculture in Nigeria and its efforts at sustaining agricultural processes, especially for commercial farmers.
“We particularly appreciate the loans, the subsidies, the improved farming methods and produces as well as the off-takers scheme, but we still do not have enough storage facilities and enough industries that process farm produces into preserved state.
“It will interest you to know that as much as we have hunger in the country today, there are still lots of wastages in the agricultural chain.
“So, there is the need for government to push out funds for farmers to make storage facilities, shelters as well as pesticides and preservatives available at subsidised rate,” Abolade said.
According to Prof. Olubunmi Omotesho of Department of Agricultural Economics and Farm Management, University of Ilorin, Nigeria loses between 30 per cent and 70 per cent of cowpea agricultural yield to post-harvest due to absence of efficient storage system.
Research, he said, had shown that Nigerian farmers were faced with the challenges of production management techniques as well as the extension needs.
He further noted that the adoption of improved technology was a key factor in raising crop productivity.
According to him, research on cowpea production by farmers in Kwara showed that majority of farmers still use the traditional storage techniques, with only a few of them using the improved modern practices, such as cribs and silos.
Omotesho also identified inadequate credit facilities, high cost of and poor access to improved storage facilities as constraints to efficient storage practices in the country.
He emphasised the importance of small-scale farming in the country, describing it as a system of farming characterised by low asset-base, low fixed capital investment, labour intensive practices and small family sizes.
The agricultural expert identified small-scale farming as driver of the rural economy and enhancer of local development, while asserting the multi-dimensional roles of the farmers.
He called for favourable agricultural policy intervention for small-scale farmers in order to produce stable quantity of food for the nation.
The don also advised governments at all levels to help small-scale farmers in providing adequate capital, access to markets information and avoiding spoilage resulting from poor storage system and high cost of transportation for agricultural produce.
Dr Patricia Pessu, the Executive Director of Nigeria Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI), Ilorin, said that the institute had developed several technologies that fits into the scheme, adding that the technology needed to be deployed with a national strategy.
”Storage technologies for crops can be provided in strategic locations where the communities have comparative advantage.
”These appropriate technologies, if deployed with a national strategy, will go a long way in mitigating post-harvest food losses in various communities across the country and providing a reliable buffer for the national food reserve.
”Consequently, this will ensure regular availability of food year-round and eliminate incessant price hikes, which is a common experience in Nigeria,” the executive director said.
According to her, the experience with the government’s response to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in providing food as palliatives has shown clearly that the national strategic food reserve is grossly inadequate.
She said that recent reports by National Bureau of Statistics showed that the country had experienced a very serious hike in food prices in the last six months, thus significantly affecting the livelihoods of many families.
”The situation is likely going to be exacerbated by the war in Ukraine due to the dependence of many African countries on grains from that part of the world.
“This calls for urgent steps to mitigate fool losses at every point of the food value chain,” Pessu said.
Dr Ola Ajila, of Faculty of Agriculture, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, called for collaboration between government and agricultural engineering sector to curb post-harvest losses across in the country.
Ajila said that agricultural engineering sector must be strengthened to develop intermediate storage and processing technology that would be affordable to individual farmers and groups.
To prevent food wastages, she said that there must be an effective storage, especially food bank, for preservation of farm produce.
The don recommended establishment of a farm produce marketing centre in each of geo-political zone, where government could purchase farm produce from farmers for storage during surplus.
“Government can process or preserve the farm produce for the off-season, when they will be selling to the public from the food bank.
“Aside storage, farm produce can be processed so as to add value, while government can also strengthen the agricultural extension advisory agency for effective dissemination of technologies to farmers.
“This is the major organisation that works directly with farmers at the grassroots.
The research institute should also be motivated for effective performance.
“Most importantly, the linkage between extension and research need to be strengthened, monitored and well-coordinated,” she said.
Ajila also said that courses in agriculture must be strengthened at all levels of education and made compulsory.
“Students must also be taught more attractive ways of making agriculture course technology-driven, instead of manually-driven as we have in the schools today.
“If agriculture is practised with the appropriate technology and marketing system, the youth will be further encouraged,” she said.
Ajila advised Nigerians to change what he called their negative attitude toward agriculture Mrs Jumoke Bakare, a Deputy Director in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ondo State, said it was important for the federal government to beef up strategic food reserves for food to be available and affordable all- year round.
“As the country is fighting insecurity all over, food security is also important for the nation to survive and for economy to grow,” she said.
The director said provision of efficient and affordable food reserves would help in reducing post-harvest loses in the food storage process.
She also said hand-held machines and simple farm equipment, such as dehydrators, could be made available to farmers to preserve some perishable foods, such as vegetables, and would still retain its nutritional value.
Bakare urged the government to provide enabling environment for private investors to invest in food reserves.
She also called on the federal government to make policies that would favour the private sector, as it cannot do it alone.
Chairman of AFAN in Ekiti, Mr Adebola Adeniran, blamed incessant increase in prices of food on lack of preservation of farm produce and grains after harvest.
Other stakeholders in the agricultural sector in the state also pointed out that proper handling and secure post-harvest system were crucial to achieving food security in the country.
According to them, lots of human and material resources are being wasted annually due to non-secure post-harvest system.
Mr Oluwashina Damilare, a cash crop farmer, said that failure to safeguard crops after harvest could lead to major losses and wasted efforts during the growing and harvest seasons.
He said that in severe cases of post-harvest food losses, it could cause business failures and loss of income, especially for small-scale business holders.
Damilare noted that one-third of the produced foods for human consumption were lost during post-harvest, adding that this required urgent government attention.
According to him, lack of secure storage facilities remained one of the contributory factors to post-harvest losses, even as he decries dependence of many small- holder farmers on traditional storage practices which damaged their harvests.
He urged the country’s agricultural research institutes to find lasting solutions to post-harvest-induced losses.
Messrs Benjamin Adeoye, Oluropo Dada and Olatunji Ayegbusi, both AFAN chiefs in Ekiti, called for collaboration among the three tiers of government in expanding the nation’s food reserve mechanism for future benefits.
“With such collaboration, relevant government agencies can work together to ensure that we have enough food reserve for any emergency,” he said.
An Agricultural expert, Mr Babajide Oso, appealed to the federal government to intensify efforts at subsidising more food preservatives and processing equipment for farmers.
Oso, who commended government for subsidising farm inputs, called for more efforts to curb wastage of farm produce, especially during the harvest season.
He was of the opinion that many farmers, especially those in rural areas, lacked enough education and awareness on preservation methods.
Oso called for siting of food processing firms in rural areas, which should be accompanied with provision of good roads, for easy access to raw materials.
Some agriculture stakeholders in the Northwest have called for the sensitisation of farmers on the need for them to take advantage of the numerous produce storage facilities to avert post-harvest losses.
Speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria on the issue, they observed that Strategic Food Reserve facilitates in some states of the geopolitical zone, were being under-utilised at a time when farmers were incurring heavy post-harvest losses due to poor storage.
Some of the stakeholders even suggested the introduction of annual sensitization programme on post-harvest and commodity preservation techniques to reduces the loss of farm produce.
Alhaji Aminu Lafta, a large scale farmer in Sokoto, told NAN that the programme, if introduced, would also curtail the ripping-off of farmers by middlemen during harvest period.
“There is need for sensitisation on post-harvest and commodity preservation techniques as part of strategic planning in agriculture; embarking on post harvest education of farmers will help reduce loss of farm produce after harvest.
“ Also, this will curtail the ripping-off of farmers by middlemen as owners of farm produce will be in a position to preserve their crops for long and sell same at a higher price”, he said.
He lamented that despite huge investment in the agriculture sector, farmers incurred huge losses annually due to poor preservation technique.
According to him, the Federal Government-owned 25,000 metric tonnes capacity silos in Sokoto State, established under the Federal Government Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR) programme, are being under-utilised .
The state Chairman of Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN), Alhaji Abubakar Danfoloti, confirmed that his members were not using the silos for storage of commodities.
Also,Alhaji Salihu Ibrahim, former Chairman Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) in the state, said his members were not patronising the silos.
Ibrahim stressed the need to imbibe the culture of proper storage of produce and moping up of excess food items during harvest period to save same for the rainy day.
In Zamfara, farmers in the state said they were still hopeful of bumper harvest in spite of the loss of farm produce recorded in some states as a result of the excessive rainfall recorded this year.
One of the farmers, Alhaji Kabiru Ibrahim, however said that there might be hike in cost of food stuffs, especially rice and other food items because of the high cost of fertilizer, farm inputs, as well as the prevailing security challenges.
He suggested that farmers should be supported with the required facilities for the storage and preservation of farm produce.
According to him, there is need for both State and Federal Government to preserve food items to prevent scarcity and hike in prices as a result of the activities of middlemen.
Meanwhile, the Kaduna State Government said the five silos it constructed would be utilised properly to minimise post-harvest loss of produce, according to Kabir Mainasibi, Permanent Secretary, Ministry for Agriculture.
Mainasibi told NAN that the silo complexes and commodity warehouses were established in various parts of the state.
“The state government has completed the construction of first set of metal silo complexes consisting of the five silos located at Brinin Gwari, Kafanchan, Zaria, Giwa, and Kagarko, each with a capacity to accommodate 5,000 metric tons of grains”, he said.
The Permanent Secretary also revealed that farmers had in the past, recounted how they lost millions of Naira as a result of wastage of farm produce, adding that arrangements had been concluded to establish two additional silos in two Local Government Area of the state.
He disclosed that the silo in Zaria had been leased out to a private company, while the other silos were being managed by the state government.
He said construction of silos in state had helped in boosting the productivity of farmers by allaying their fears of incurring losses resulting from lack of storage facilities.
In Kano, Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in the state, Alhaji Abdulrashid Rimin-Gado, urged the Federal Government to ensure the utilisation of silos across the country to minimise post harvest losses.
He said such measure would ensure food security and discourage hoarding by middlemen that could lead to hike in the prices of farm produce, noting that inadequacy of storage facilities had been responsible for post-harvest crop losses.
Alhaji Tijani Malam, a large scale farmer in Kano, said it had become necessary for the nation to enhance its strategic grains reserves.
He stakeholders and governments at all levels to collaborate in order to minimise post-harvest loss of farm produce being recorded annually.
Malam, who is a retired Federal civil servant and owner of ATIM farms, Kano, noted that farmers were losing billions of Naira annually due to lack of effective storage facilities.
Tafida Umaru, a lecturer at College of Agriculture, Kano, called on the Federal Government to come up with scientific approaches to curbing post-harvest losses by supporting Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRl).
According to him, such support will enable NSPRI meet its mandate of ensuring effective storage system for agricultural commodities.
Speaking along the same line, some farmers in Ingawa Local Government Area of Katsina State, called on government to establish more silos to address post-harvest food losses.
Alhaji Ibrahim Ingawa, Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in the area, said farm produce were being wasted due to lack of storage facilities.
According to him, farmers cannot keep their produce like tomatoes, beans, onions, cowpeas and mangoes for a long period due to lack of storage facilities.
Another, farmer, Malam Sani Mua’zu, urged the Federal Government to build at least 100 public stores in each of the 109 Senatorial districts across the country, where farmers could keep their produce after harvest to minimise losses.
The Katsina State chapter of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) has endorsed the All Progressive Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate in the state, Dr Dikko Radda.
The Chairman of the association, who is also the state’s Commissioner for Local Government, Alhaji Ya’u Gojogojo, disclosed this at an event it organised on Tuesday, in Katsina.
He said that the association was supporting the APC candidate because ”he is also a farmer,” hoping that he will improve the sector.
Gojogojo added: ‘”The reason why we endorsed Radda is that he is a farmer, and as a farmer we believe he is going to do everything possible to boost agriculture in Katsina.
“Therefore, we have to give his ambition all the necessary support, because when the agricultural sector is boosted, it means many people will be engaged in farming.
“If more people engage in farming, we are going to have more production of farm goods.
And it will alsoboost the economy of the state.
“Like you all know, even the insecurity will disappear if more people are supported to engage in farming, because they will not be redundant and they will have enough cash with them.
” In his remarks, Radda assured the farmers that the agricultural sector will get attention from his first his administration, if elected as governor.
He said he was a trained extension worker, therefore it has become necessary for him to give more priority to that sector, when elected.
“Any country that wants development, must give the agricultural sector the needed attention.
“In Katsina state, we are not proud of anything better than farming, because over 85 per cent of our people are farmers.
“And statistics have shown that over 80 per cent of small and medium entrepreneurs in the country are under the agricultural value chain.
“Therefore, the small and medium industries we have, without farming, 80 per cent of such businesses will collapse.
” Radda said.
He commended the organisers of the event while he assured his support and commitment towards supporting and boosting the agricultural sector in the state.
Stakeholders in agriculture in the South-East have proferred long-term solutions to the perennial deficits in the nation’s strategic food reserves.
A cross-section of the people, who spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria , identified insecurity and knowledge gap as the major challenges that should be urgently addressed.
In Enugu, respondents say the onus lies on the Federal Government to take drastic measures to end the lingering farmers-herders clashes in agrarian communities in different parts of the country.
They further argued that the nation had the capacity to produce suffient food to feed its citizens all-year-round but hinged the deficit on huge post-harvest losses.
They also called for Federal Government’s deliberate policy that could sufficiently address the knowledge gap on how to permanently checkmate the post-harvest losses and boost the nation’s strategic food reserves.
A renowned farmer, Mr Vincent Akama, said that post-harvest losses could be checked, if farmers could be taught the best agronomy practices, including the cultivation of pest-resistant seedlings.
According to Akama, the good agronomy practices will teach farmers to plant more of organic crops, in addition to the ways to preserve the farm produce in the best post-harvest method, without depending on harmful chemicals.
Also, a farmer and produce marketer in Enugu, Mr Innocent Nweke, urged government at all levels to encourage produce off-takers with loans to ensure that they buy off produce from rural farmers to avoid post-harvest losses arising from poor sales.
“Produce off-takers should be supported to own trucks that will go into the hinterlands to collect farm produce and pay farmers reasonably to sustain their farming business,” Nweke said.
Mr Eddy Ugwu, a senior official of the Enugu State Ministry of Agriculture, opined that insecurity remained the bane of the nation’s perennial food crisis.
Ugwu, also a practicing farmer, said that many farmers were now scared to either go to cultivate or harvest at the end of the farming season due to the incessant farmers-herders clashes.
He argued that the delays in going to harvest in due season because of the activities of herders in rural communities leave the produce to perish.
He said: “I believe if the issue of insecurity is dealt with, the post-harvest losses will definitely reduce.
“Again, more people will go into farming, if only to feed their immediate families, following the high cost of food items in the market.
” In Abia, some stakeholders urged State Governments to build silos in Local Government Areas to adequately address the issue of post-harvest losses, which has become an annual experience.
They said that the initiative would help to strengthen Federal Government’s efforts to boost food security in the country.
The Southeast Coordinator of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Chief Dunlop Okoro, said that food reserves play a vital role in preventing food shortage in every economy.
Okoro said that the war between Ukraine and Russia had affected the supply of grains across the world, adding that the Federal Government should intensify efforts to boost its food reserves.
“State Governments can target to have their own food reserves in every local government area.
“The Federal Government can also assist by having its own food reserves built across the states of the federation.
“There should also be some intervention to boost agriculture for increased production of food for the reserves,” he said.
Okoro further advised the government to create a fool proof system that would ensure its intervention in agriculture is safely delivered to the real farmers.
He said that having strategic food reserves across the country required an all-inclusive effort by all the statekeholders.
Another farmer, Mr Charles Agbara, said that building strategic food reserves in the hinterlands would be more beneficial, given that they would be more accessible to farmers.
Agbara proposed that the facilities, when built, should be handed over to Farmers’ Cooperative Societies to manage in the rural areas, especially to source for farm produce for the food reserves Another farmer, Mr Imeremba Imeremba, said that the amount of loss recorded during post-harvest season was enormous and could be prevented “if the government builds food reserves in every locality”.
Imeremba said that it was essential for the government to set up an off-taking mechanism to ensure that such food reserves would be deployed to their full capacity.
Also, stakeholders in Imo called on the Federal Government to provide more farm inputs for farmers to help boost food production.
The state Chairman of AFAN, Dr Vitus Enwerem, said that Nigeria’s strategic food reserves were largely depleted during the COVID-19 pandemic, hence the need to restock them against the rainy day.
According to Enwerem, inputs, such as fertilizer, chemicals and seeds, when made available, would enhance food production for consumption and storage.
He said: “Farmers need farm inputs to meet the increasing demand in food for both consumption and storage.
“During the pandemic, when farmers could no longer go to their farms, we fell back to our reserves.
“If anything happens now that would require going to our reserves, there will be catastrophe because the reserves have yet to be replenished.
“Imo received six trailer loads of grains during the pandemic, other states received theirs too, so there is need to restock what had been used up.
“Food stuffs are expensive and farmers need assistance to boost production for consumption and strategic storage.
” In Ebonyi, stakeholders in the agricultural sector underscored the need for the Federal and State Governments to upgrade the silos in states to beef up food reserves in the country.
They said that making the silos more functional would go a long way in minimising post-harvest losses of farm produce.
They also recommended the establishment of farm settlements and possible ways to encourage local storage among rural farmers.
Mr Jonah Eke said there was a need for government to create an enabling environment to grow modern agriculture practices in the country.
Eke said that modern farms should have regular power, water and other social amenities.
He also said that there should be government intervention for prospective farmers to acquire farmlands with ease.
He further called for the provision of irrigation system for an all-season farming to guarantee food sufficiency.
He also advocated for the provision of improved seedlings, loans, fertilisers and other agro-allied inputs.
Mrs Apolonia Aligwe advised that existing agricultural facilities should be regularly maintained for optimal performance.
“Modern farming techniques should be installed to effectively preserve seedlings, crops and farm produce,” Aligwe said.
Mr Magnus Nwedu also advised government at all levels to set up supervisory and monitoring units to take charge of the food reserves in the country.
In Anambra, the story about post-harvest losses in farm produce was positively different.
A NAN investigation showed that the state recorded minimal losses due to the prevailing value chain on rice and cassava.
The state also has a deliberate policy in place for the engagement of off-takers in farm produce.
The development makes it imperative for government to provide more storage tanks to meet the need of farmers.
Mr Chidozie Obi, Head of Engineering Department, Ministry of Agriculture, said that more tractors, silos and irrigation system were needed to encourage bumper harvest at the end of the farming season.
“The only silo built by the Federal Government is being managed by Coscharis Farms.
“The state has been recording less post-harvest losses so far due to our approach in the engagement of off-takers,” Obi said.
He also said that the State Government would soon set up coconut and palm oil industries, as part of its policy on industrialisation in the agricultural sector.
Mr Chris Okoli, the Programme Manager of Sasakawa Global, and agro-allied company, called on farmers to turn to organic fertilizers for better yields rather than the inorganic fertilizers.
“The truth is that for our post-harvest crops to enhance our bodies and be accepted internationally, we should cultivate our crops with organic fertilizers.
“We teach farmers the way to practice regenerative agriculture, nutritional sensitive agriculture and market- oriented agriculture, which makes post-harvest produce waste minimal,” Okoli said.
Stakeholders, especially farmers in the South-South, have called on the Federal Government to urgently build more silos across the states to reduce annual post-harvest losses in the agriculture sector.
The residents made the call in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria , against the backdrop of government’s recent disclosure that the country’s economic cost of post-harvest losses was N3.5 trillion.
The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Shehuri, at the presentation of the International Standard Organisation (ISO) Certification for Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute, Abuja, decried the worrisome trend.
NAN recalls that the minister, represented at the occasion by Mr Shehu Bello, a Director in the ministry, noted further that the losses in fruits and vegetables could be as high as between 50 and 60 per cent.
Concerned about the huge annual post-harvest losses, the respondents said the situation, if not quickly reversed, could worsen Nigeria’s food insecurity.
They also urged government to partner relevant stakeholders in the agribusiness sector to improve on the existing food-processing value chain to mitigate annual post-harvest losses nationwide.
The Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in Delta, Mr Richard Asenime, said that with adequate food preservation facilities in place, farmers’ capacity to produce food would increase.
Asenime, however, lamented the absence of silos for grain storage in most states, saying Delta had only one silo for farmers to preserve their grains after harvest.
He added that with silos, farmers would make more money by regulating supply of their produce and ensuring stability in price.
In Calabar, Mr Bassey Edet, Programme Manager, Cross River Agricultural Development Programme (ADP), underscored the importance of having storage facilities in the preservation of farm produce all year round.
According to him, proper handling of the nation’s strategic food reserve is the way to go, to ensure food security and sustainability.
Edet said to ensure adequate food supply all year round, the federal government needed to establish strategic food reserves in different states and thereafter hand them over to the private sector to manage.
He regretted that successive governments consistently had to borrow from the World Bank for different agricultural projects without sustainable plans, adding that such programmes died soon after the administration left office.
He said: “Food banks should be constructed in different states depending on the food crops they produce.
If this is realised, there will be competition and ultimately food prices will drop.
“This will also help us to control food prices during scarce period.
We will just get the products from the reserve to the market to reduce the price of the commodity and monopoly.
” According to the programme manager, because the nation’s food reserves are not working, Cross River loses so much during harvest peak periods, which frustrates the efforts of peasant farmers.
He noted that if government invested in storage facilities, apart from drastically reducing wastages, there would be food security.
“The lack of reserve is one of the reasons why IDPs are suffering in their camps; we need to have these food banks to preserve food and also generate income.
“Nigerians would not have suffered so much in 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, if government had strategically stored enough food to assist people who remained indoors,” he said.
For Mr Festus Ebozele, Managing Director, TA Commodity Producers Co. Nigeria Limited, Benin, the federal government should invest more in food processing to reduce post-harvest losses in the country.
Ebozele said such investment could be through partnership with local farmers as well as other private investors.
“The federal government should invest more in processing of perishable farm produces as well create a conducive environment for processing businesses to thrive,” he said.
According to him, the federal government can empower farmers to go into processing of perishable farm produces like orange, pineapple and plantain, among others.
“My interaction with most farmers over the years has revealed that they do not have enough buyers for their fresh products and as such need to process these products to ensure durability.
“Government should ban importation of fruit juice and promote processing and sale of local juice.
“Some makers of pineapple juice in Nigeria buy concentrates from China and this is affecting the value chain for pineapple in the country,” he said.
In his contribution, Mr Ogbeiwi Odihi-Ogiamien, Edo Coordinator, Youth Wing, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), urge partnership among all levels of government in preserving farm produce.
Odihi-Ogiamien said since the federal government seemed to have its hands full, state and local governments could partner farmers in the area of preservation to reduce post-harvest losses.
“There are 774 LGAs in the country; they can collaborate with farmers at the grassroots in the storage of farm products in their locality.
“The federal government can then assist councils that are doing well to expand their capacity,” he said.
A commercial farmer in Bayelsa, Mr Fidelis Alaowei, said farmers were faced with the challenge of absence of storage facilities in the state especially for grains, hence the high post-harvest losses annually.
He said food losses and waste were either as a result of ineffective functioning or total absence of food storage systems.
“Improving on-farm storage technologies for grains is one of the most widely applied solutions for the reduction of grain losses in developing countries.
“The most commonly used options – metal drums and hermetic bags – can reduce grain losses to near zero if used correctly.
It allows farmers to increase food for home consumption and sales.
“In grain value chain, most losses in quantity and quality occur during storage and are due to improper grain drying.
“Again, vegetables and fruits can be stored using a specialised method of conditioning as done in National Horticultural Institute of Nigeria (NIHORT) to check post-harvest losses,” he said.
Alaowei said that farmers were already conversant with ways to preserve tuber crops such as yam.
On his part, an Uyo-based agronomist, Dr. Nsikak Edidiong, said that the rise in food prices should be a concern to every Nigerian.
”A fortified food reserve system will help to guarantee food supply all year round and ensure food security,” he said.
Another respondent and farmer, Chief Nsima Jacobs, said that the establishment of strategic food reserves would encourage farmers to grow more crops and earn more.
”The insecurity in some parts of the country requires us to reserve food.
“Farming activities are already threatened in some parts of the country and we need to think outside the box and ensure all round food supply in the country,” he said.
In Rivers some residents have attributed high cost of food commodities to lack of storage facilities in the state, and stressed the need for government to beef up strategic food reserves to minimize post-harvest losses.
Mr Bright Okere, Director, Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Andoni Local Government Area, told NAN in Port Harcourt that over 50 per cent of agriculture produce in the state was lost due to lack of silos.
“Fishermen loose much of their catch due to lack of electricity, cold rooms and other storage facilities at fishing ports.
“Whenever there’s a huge catch, fishermen and the offtakers become overwhelmed, resulting in drastic fall in the price of fish.
“Some times the catch becomes so enomous that fishermen begin to bury fishes to prevent stench from decomposition,” he said.
Okere urged the federal government to establish strategic fish storage outlets in the state to curb post-harves losses.
A cassava farmer, Mr Clement Gosu, also urged the federal government and agriculture investors to establish more cassava flour mills and storage plants in the southern part of the country.
He said that the move would check shortage of cassava flour in the country and also encourage export of the produce.
Similarly, Mr Athens Owo, an agriculture extension officer, Rivers Agriculture Development Programme (ADP) said establishment of silos would support risk reduction in farm investment.
He also said that strategic food storage reserve would attract processors and other investors since produce would be available in various parts of the country.
Stakeholders in the agricultural sector across the South-West zone have expressed concern over the rising cost of fertilisers with its attendant low crop yield per hectare and shortage of food in Nigeria.
They spoke separately with the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday, appealing to the three tiers of governments to take over direct supply and distribution of the product from private individuals and corporate groups.
In a survey conducted in Ibadan, Ado-Ekiti, Akure, Abeokuta, Osogbo and Ilorin, the respondents said that the situation, if not urgently checked, could lead to low usage of fertilisers, with low productivity of crops as a dire consequence.
In Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State, a Crop farmer, Mr Olusayo Fadipe, described the situation of fertilisers, getting out of reach of the farmers, as worrisome.
Fadipe said that without the use of fertilisers, the expected crop yield would drop, resulting in reduced revenue for farmers.
According to him, any farmer, who manages to buy fertilisers at high cost, will have to build the increase into his selling price, thus making farm produce unaffordable for consumers, both individuals and corporate organisations.
Fadipe, therefore, called on fertiliser manufacturers in the country to work toward producing at maximum capacity.
“Governments, especially at the Federal and State levels, should subsidise the cost of fertilisers for the sake of affordability to farmers.
“Farmers’ cooperative societies should also be encouraged to establish fertiliser selling units, close to the farms, as logistics support for fertiliser distribution,” he said.
Another farmer, Prince David Ogundele, said that increase in the prices of fertilisers would lead to decrease in the harvest of crops and shortage of food for both human and animal consumption.
Ogundele said there would also be shortage of raw materials for industries, thereby resulting in unemployment and difficulty in refunding bank loans for farmers.
He encouraged the use of organic fertilisers, while calling on the Federal Government to take up the production and distribution of fertilisers without involvement of the middlemen.
“With fertiliser plants not in perfect working condition, the Federal Government should intervene in the interest of the farmers and of the country, because nobody can do without food,” he said.
Commenting, Mr Bode RajI, the Permanent Secretary, Oyo State Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said that the state government has a provision of 25 per cent subsidy on fertilisers for genuine farmers in the state.
According to Raji, fertiliser market has been deregulated in the country, implying that government is not directly involved in the distribution of the product.
“However, the state government is coming in to give assistance in the area of subsidy provision,” he said.
The permanent secretary acknowledged fertilisers as very critical to agriculture, without which, he said farm activities would not run well.
He said that the subsidy was to enable the farmers to access the product, even at exorbitant prices.
The state government, he said, through the ministry’s sister agency, Oyo State Agriculture Business Development Agency, already has genuine data of farmers in the state.
According to him, the ministry has also partnered with various farmers’ associations to make it easy to identify genuine farmers in every local government area.
Raji, however, appealed to farmers to be sincere with the government, advising them against reselling the subsidised fertilisers whenever they were supplied to them.
Also, an Agriculturist, Matilda Oyewole, identified fertiliser as one of the key inputs in agriculture, especially in Nigeria.
“So, there is a direct proportional increase in the cost of farm produce as prices of fertilisers increase.
“This is because it affects the cost of production in agriculture.
The more the cost of production goes up, the more the selling price goes up.
“And most times, fertilisers are difficult to get, as they don’t get to the grassroots farmers easily.
When they, eventually get to them, they are too expensive to bear b.
“Fertilisers are being sold between N25,000 and N45,000, depending on the type of fertiliser you purchased,” Oyewole said.
Also, Mr John Olateru, the Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Oyo State chapter, attributed the increasing cost of fertilisers to the high exchange rate of foreign currencies.
“This has caused a lot of instability in the prices of fertilisers; because everything is following the trend of the exchange rate.
This is an unfortunate situation.
“Furthermore, the cost of diesel is not helping matters at all,” Olateru said.
Commenting, Dr Kola Farinloye, an Associate Professor of Agriculture and Forestry at the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba, Ondo State, said a premium has yet to be paid on how farmers could gain access to fertilisers on time.
“All efforts must be made to ensure that fertilisers are available to our farmers.
“The situation is harsh due to high cost of importation, as Nigeria imports 60 to 70 per cent of fertilisers available in the market.
“The exchange rate, as well as other factors, are reasons why fertilisers are very expensive and beyond the reach of an average farmers.
“Definitely, high cost of fertilisers or scarcity of it, will lead to high cost of farm produce,” Farinloye said.
In Ado-Ekiti, stakeholders wondered about the nonexistent of, at least, a fertiliser plant in any part of Ekiti.
They said that with the agrarian nature of the state and the fact that most of its residents are into, either subsistence or market farming, the state should have a fertiliser plant.
According to them, having such a plant in the state will ensure ready availability of the product and reduce its cost, which is currently staggering.
A peasant farmer, Mr Joel Akanbi, said that the state had left its farmers to the mercy of fertiliser merchants, who engage in shrouded deals.
This, he said, could affect food security, as farmers would have to run at losses.
Another farmer, Mrs Folakemi Kayode, urged the government to, in the alternative, guarantee large supplies at cheaper price, so as to checkmate activities of those hiking price indiscriminately.
A raw food seller and farmer, Mrs Kemi Oluwaleke, said that an urgent intervention from the government was needed in all matters relating to fertilisers, if bumper harvest, especially during the current rainy season, could be achieved.
According to her, fertiliser is the main problem of farmers, as a chunk of the profit made from planting and harvesting, is taken away by too much of hard labour and the process of seeking alternative means.
Contributing, Mr Oluropo Dada, the Chairman, AFAN in Ido-Osi Local Government area, also called for the establishment of, at least, one fertiliser plant in any part of the state to make it accessible and affordable.
Dada said that farmers were no longer finding it comfortable to buy the commodity at an open markets and stalls, due to its exorbitant price.
The chairman regretted that many farmers had, either abandoned their farms or abandoned the use of fertilisers to source for alternatives such as cow dug and goat faeces, among others.
“We no longer buy fertilisers for our farms, because they are too expensive for us to afford.
“For example, when a fertiliser that is meant to be given to us at subsidised price, is being sold for almost N30,000, is to say the least, unfair.
“We also do not want the Federal Government to give out fertilisers through government officials or intermediaries anymore.
“Farmers from their respective state and local governments have registered their names at the national level, so the fertilisers should be given to us directly at reduced cost,” he said.
In his remarks, Mr Olatunji Ayegbusi, Chairman, Farmers Association in Ikole Local Government area, urged the government to focus more on the issue of fertilisers and ensure that it was not politicised.
Commenting, the Ekiti Coordinator, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Daramola Adeyemi, identified the nation’s policy issue on fertilisers and the market fall as the major reasons for high cost of the commodity.
Adeyemi said that initially, before the Agricultural Transformation Agenda of former President Goodluck Jonathan and former Minister of Agriculture, Mr Akinwumi Adesina, government was involved in the procurement and distribution of fertilisers, but later the policy changed.
He explained that after the administration, President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, after studying the programme and discovered that certain things were not working well and that the policy was not sustainable, it suspended it.
Adeyemi said under a new arrangement, government pegged its price at a particular rate.
According to him, the problem now is the agro dealers handling purchase and distribution, who came up with production cost, different from state to state.
“Not all states have blending machines, hence, the disparity in the prices of fertilisers, in spite of the fact that the price is pegged at a reasonable amount by the Federal Government.
“The states that have blending machines procured cheaper fertilisers than states without any of the machines.
“For instance, Ekiti does not have a blending machine; they took the produce to Kaduna for blending and by the time it is blended and transported back here, the cost of transportation will be added, which makes for the high cost,” he said.
Adeyemi also identified the War as another contributing factor to the rise in the prices of fertilisers.
“But, having realised this, the ministry still supports farmers in term of inputs at subsidised rate, under some special programmes, as inaugurated by the government.
“The Federal Government is no longer involved in the procurement and distribution; the only thing government does for farmers is to provide special interventions and supports.
“This is where the issue of middlemen came in; because some rich men mopped up to resell at exorbitant prices,” he said.
Another agriculture expert, Mr James Ibitoye, said that government needed to initiate a bottom-up approach by further registering and selling to farmers.
Ibitoye urged the government to organise seminars for farmers and make use of registered extension agents and facilities, getting and analysing feedback from the farmers.
According to him, there are paper farmers, who take advantage of the subsidised fertilisers to resell them to the real farmers at exorbitant prices.
On the way out, he called for price control and regulatory agencies, branding of the government’s subsidised fertilisers and the creation of designated payment units.
In his reactions, Olabode Adetoyi, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Food Security in Ekiti, said that the present administration in the state would do everything possible to return agriculture to the front burner.
According to Adetoyi, the drive to regain the status of the state as a food basket of the nation, made the government to adopt agriculture as one of its five pillars.
With this in mind, he said, the state government had always been protecting farmers’ interest at all times, promising that Gov. Kayode Fayemi-led administration would not relent in this regard.
Adetoyi, however, advised famers to step up patronage of the government’s agro outlets, where they could buy at controlled prices.
This, he said, was to avoid falling into the hands of those sabotaging the government’s efforts.
Meanwhile, in Akure, capital of Ondo State, an Agronomist, Mr Clement Emiju, told NAN that the few available fertilisers were not affordable to an average farmers.
Emiju said, “a bag of fertiliser now costs between N23,000 and N25,000, which is much higher than what we used to have in recent past.
” He said it was worrisome that there was no longer subsidy on fertilisers by the government.
“You know you can’t create land and to be able to use the little land you have used repeatedly, you need fertilisers.
“When you cultivate a piece of land repeatedly, there will be depletion of the soil nutrients and you start looking for fertilisers here and there and when you eventually see it, the cost is exorbitant,” he said.
Emiju, who specialises in cassava, yam and maize, said he had, however, shifted his cultivation to groundnut and cowpea due to the inadequacy or non-availability of fertilisers in the state.
“I moved to groundnut and cowpea to complement my main area of agriculture, because they don’t require much fertilisers like others.
“With cowpea and groundnut, apart from the fact that they don’t require much fertilisers, you can plough them back to the soil for soil nutrients,” he said.
Emiju, therefore, appealed to the government to find means of making fertilisers available and at affordable prices, in order to ensure food security.
“We will only appeal and advise government to subsidise fertilisers and make them available to farmers since we cannot create land and we can only use the little we have to make more yields for food to be available and to make agriculture profitable.
“As it is, no poor or peasant farmer can afford the cost of the available fertiliser,” he said.
The agronomist also advised farmers not to depend all the time on inorganic fertilisers, saying: “Though, they have faster results, they are not environmental friendly like organic fertilisers.
“An organic fertiliser requires large quantity in the soil, but its efficiency in the soil is much pronounced.
“Organic fertiliser stabilises soil temperature and it is richer.
It contains major and minor nutrients,” he said.
In Abeokuta, Prof. Jimoh Olanite of the Department of Pasture and Range Management, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNNAB), said that cropping activities would be almost impossible, particularly, in the Northern part of the country without fertiliser.
“In the Southern part of the country, one can still get some yield, even without applying fertilisers, especially if the soil has not been overused, because the soil, compared to the Northern part, is rich.
“However, there is need for use of fertiliser across the nation, because research has shown that the more fertiliser you apply, up to a certain point, the more yield of crop you are likely to get, especially for crops like maize and other cereals, which require fertilisers like Nitrogen,” he said.
The lecturer noted with concern that Nigeria had continued to rank among the countries with low use of fertilisers in the African continent.
According to him, the average use of fertilisers per hectare ranges between 100kg and 200kg per hectare in some African countries, while the average use of the product on land in Nigeria is about 50kg per hectare.
Olanite said there were about 10 fertilisers producing companies in Nigeria, adding that majority of them were not operating optimally.
“Our problem is not lack of fertiliser producing firms, because we have about 10 of them.
“Nigeria’s projected fertiliser need has been put at between five and seven million metric tonnes annually, which the companies should be able to produce for the country’s consumption and also have excess for export.
“The problem, however, is that many of these firms don’t produce up to half of their installed capacities.
“The newly established Dangote factory in Lagos, with a capacity for three million metric tonnes per annum, for instance, is reported to be producing about half of that figure,” he said.
Olanite also said that Nigeria had continued to depend on importation of raw materials to produce its fertiliser blends.
Noting that Nigeria had comparative advantage in Nitrogen and Limestone, he said the country was still largely depending on importation of raw materials like phospate and potash.
He said that various government’s interventions, like subsidising the price of fertilisers for farmers, had often been hijacked by “political farmers” .
Olanite, therefore, called on the FG to come up with an effective monioring mechanism to ensure that the subsidised fertilisers get to the real farmers for increased productivity.
In his comments,Mr Olusegun Dasaolu, the Deputy National President of AFAN, noted that the situation had continued to hinder the productive capacity of farmers across the nation.
“The resultant effect of the high cost of fertiliser is food scarcity, because farmers have no access to fertilisers that could assist them in planting and making their crops grow well.
“Fertiliser is one key product that assists farmers in growing their produce, particularly, in the Northern part of the country, where they are producing most of the foods.
“In the Southern part of the country, our soil is richer and the quantity of the product needed is comparatively low.
“But, in the North, much is needed, because that is where the bulk of the food is grown.
“Unfortunately, the prices have continued to soar, as a 50kg bag of NPK, mostly used by Nigerian small holder farmers, is currently about N22,000, while a bag of urea fertiliser is about N19,000. “As far as we are concerned, as a body of farmers, the high cost of available fertiliser in the market now is not palatable and it is not good for a viable business, as far as agricultural business is concerned.
“The situation has forced many farmers out of business and the entire country is suffering for it,” he said.
Dasaolu, however, expressed hope that prices of fertilisers might be forced down by the time the newly established Dangote factory finally began to operate in its full capacity.
He called on the Federal Government to come up with policies, directly targeted at making fertilisers available to farmers at affordable prices.
Contributing, Mr Samuel Adeogun, the Ogun Programme Coordinator of the Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP), said that the rising prices of fertiliser was a reflection of the increased cost of its production.
Adeogun said: “Once there is an increase in the price of fertiliser, it means that the cost of production has gone up.
“Once the cost of production goes up, that automatically translates to increase in prices of farm produce, because farmers, since they are into business, must have to recover their cost.
” He said that there had been a global surge in fertiliser prices due to the Russia-Ukraine war.
According to him, it is inevitable that the prices of fertilisers will rise in Nigeria since the country depends on importation of raw materials for the production of fertilisers.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of AFAN in Osun, Alhaji Sulaiman Araokanmi, said that farmers in the state were buying fertilisers at exorbitant prices, which in turn had affected the selling price of their farm produce.
Araokanmi said that the government’s subsidised fertilisers were not getting to the farmers.
“In the four years, I have been AFAN Chairman in Osun, we have never seen or got fertilisers supplied to farmers in the state from the Federal Government.
“At a point, I went to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to solicit assistance for farmers in Osun, but I was told that fertilisers were not available,” he said.
The AFAN chairman said that the Dangote fertilisers, promised farmers, were also not available in the market.
Araokanmi said that the fertilisers, which farmers were using for their crops, were bought from the private business owners in the open market and sold to them at very exorbitant prices.
Also, Mr Folarin Akanni, a farm input dealer in Osogbo, linked the high cost of the commodity to the high dollar exchange rate and the fact that most fertilisers were being imported.
Akanni said that in addition to the dollar exchange, getting fertilisers supply was also becoming very difficult because of the ongoing war.
He said that at the moment, only urea fertiliser was still available in the market at the rate of N25,000 upwards.
According to him, the most popular and best used fertiliser, NPK Golden, which is no longer available in the market, was last sold between N26,000 and N27,000. Akanni said the production of Dangote fertilisers had been halted for a while, adding that it was not available anywhere in the Nigerian market.
Similarly, Chief Julius Akinwande, the AFAN Chairman in Ife Central Local Government, said that increase in prices of the product had affected farm produce in the country.
Akinwande said that before now, farmers bought fertilisers directly from the goverment at cheaper rates, but there was nothing like that again.
“The government’s subsidised fertiliser is no longer within the reach of the farmers,” he said.
Akinwande called on government to make it available for farmers at the grassroots at subsidised rate with other insecticides, for adequate food production.
In Ilorin, Malam Ahmed Shaba of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, Kwara chapter, said that some farmers, due to the rising costs of normal fertilisers, had started using fake fertilisers.
Shaba said that the fake ones, cost as low as N9,000, while original fertiliser cost N25,000 per bag.
According to him, many fraudulent individuals have taken advantage of the fertiliser scarcity to blend and package different substances into sacks as fertilisers.
These substances, he said, would later turn into sand after some time.
“We appeal to the Federal Government to come to the aid of farmers, so that we can get access to fertilisers for our farms.
“This will, in turn, help food security across the country,” he said.
He warned that application of fake and substandard fertilisers on farmlands could destroy the soil and reduce crop yield, as well as affect human health negatively.
Shaba, therefore, advised the government to urgently intervene to save the nation from imminent food shortage.
Also, Malam Ahmed Saliu, the Zonal Chairman of Amana Farmers and Grain Supply Association of Nigeria, said that non availability of the product had affected the output of many farmers.
Saliu added that non-availabiliy of fertilisers would affect the production of many commodities in the country.
He urged government at all tiers to assist farmers in making fertilisers and other farm inputs available and affordable to enable them produce food in large quantities.
The All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) has resolved to settle the crisis rocking the Edo chapter of the association.
At a meeting convened in Benin on Tuesday, Mr Harrison Okpamen, Chairman of the Ad hoc committee set up to midwife the conciliation, appealed to all aggrieved parties to sheathe their swords and allow peace to reign.
Okpamen urged all factions in the chapter to come together and form a formidable force that would benefit the members.
Many opportunities, he said, had been lost by members as a result of the lingering rancour.
“AFAN is a big association and we cannot allow it to be destroyed.
AFAN Edo cannot afford to lose benefits again.
“Welfare of members should be our priority as we definitely need support from government and donor agencies to improve farming.
“To achieve this, we will need to jettison our ego and remain selfless in our services,” he said.
The chairman of the reconciliatory committee said the committee had a limited time to settle the dispute and put in place a new executive council that would work for all.
Mr Peter Aikhumobhogbe, thenPermanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, advised the committee to engage leaders of all factions in their reconciliatory move.
AFAN, the permanent secretary, said must be strong or else members would remain to loose many things.
He noted that no matter the settlement, members would still need to tolerate one another for there was nobody without weakness.
The collaborative efforts of the Federal Government and states in the Northwest is yielding positive result in checking the menace of Quelea birds threatening crops, reports the News Agency of Nigeria .
The migratory birds that often come into Nigeria from neighbouring countries, target farm produces, with farmers in borders communities receiving a substantial proportion of the heat through incurring massive losses.
In Katsina State, the Federal Government conducted massive aerialspray of chemical across four Local Government Areas of the state to check the threat of the birds.
Coordinator, Federal Ministry of Agriculture in the state, Alhaji Suleiman Salihu, told NAN in Katsina that the exercise was carried out in Dabiran, Sabbi, Ajiwa and Zobe towns of Daura, Mai’adua, Batagarawa, and Dutsinma Local Government Areas.
He explained that the people of the areas saw the birds and immediately reported to the ministry for prompt action, adding that the pests were prevented from causing any destruction.
He said the exercise, conducted from Aug. 3, to Aug. 7, was a proactive measure and part of the ministry’s Emergency Control of Trans-boundary pests.
The Coordinator said that the birds, which were trans-border pests, flew in their thousands from various countries into Nigeria.
Alhaji Maigari Dakingari, Kebbi State Commissioner for Agriculture and Mineral Resources said the state government approved the release of N40 million for aerial spray of Quelea birds coming from neighbouring Benin and Niger Republics to destroy crops in the state.
“When the rainy season started, we were taken aback by the invasion and attack of Quelea birds migrating from neighboring countries of Benin and Niger Republics.
“We contacted the Federal Government for intervention and aerial spray was conducted in some Local Government Areas bordering Benin and Niger Republics,” he said.
Dakingari said pests control was a very important element in agriculture, as such migratory birds wreak havoc annually, not only in the state alone, but also in Sokoto and Zamfara states.
“This is because our strategic location makes it a significant flashpoint for entry of migratory pests into the country.
“It is on that basis that Gov. Atiku Bagudu, approved the release of N40 million for flight hours, pesticides and logistics, to continue with the work the Federal Government had started in order to prevent the loss of crops by farmers in the state,” he said.
NAN reports that some of the Local Government Areas where the exercise will continue include Argungu, Dandi, Bunza, Bagudo, Yauri, Zuru, Augie and Gwandu.
A cross section of farmers in the state commended the efforts of the a Federal and State Government, with one of them, Malam Aminu Abdullahi, a farmer, describing the measure as a right step in the right direction.
Malam Kabiru Mohammed, an expert in animal health in Birnin Kebbi, advised people close to the area of operation, not to eat the birds killed during the exercise as the chemicals used were harmful.
Also, Kano State Government, in collaboration with the Federal Government, conducted aerial spray on Quelea birds in some parts of the state.
The Director, Agricultural Services, Kano State Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Alhaji Abdulkadir Sanusi-Madobi, told NAN that with the conduct of the exercise, threat of Quelea birds had been reduced substantially.
“The attack by the birds has been put under control now; the destruction by the birds is not much as few farmlands were affected; it will not affect the overall agricultural production expected during this wet season,” he assured.
He also stated that there were incidents of invasion of farm lands by army warms in some Local Government Areas, but added that the situation had also been brought under control.
Meanwhile, Sokoto State Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Alhaji Jamilu Sanusi, said he had not received any complaints of invasion of farms by Quelea birds in the state this year.
Sanusi however urged government agencies to be on the alert to tackle any such incident should it happen.
The Public Relations Officer of the State Ministry of Agriculture, Malam Muktar Iya , also confirmed to NAN that state had not recorded any case of Quelea birds invasion this year.
He said chemicals and spray apparatus were available to tackle any such calamity if it occurred.
The situation in Zamfara is however different as farmers in Bakura, Maradun and Talata Mafara Local Government areas of the State have called for the intervention of government in checking the menace of the birds.
Chairman of Rice Farmers Association, Talata Mafara Chapter, Malam Sambo Shehu, said they had been incurring losses as a result of massive destruction by the birds, especially during the dry season farming period, adding that farmers around Bakalori irrigation project were most affected.
“We only rely on traditional methods by covering our rice farms with fishing net and hitting drums to distract the birds from descending on our crops.
“We are therefore seeking the intervention of government in fighting the those birds as no individual or group can afford to employ modern technique of using helicopter to spray pesticide on them.
Secretary of All Farmer Association of Nigeria, Zamfara State Chapter, Sani Tanko, said many rice farmers had lost their farm produce to Quelea birds in Talata Mafara Local Government Area of the state.