Farmers raise concern as fertiliser price hits N28,000
• HOMEF, others call for adoption of Agroecology
Farmers have raised concern over the skyrocketing price of fertiliser, saying with the current cost hitting N28, 000 per bag and food prices coming down in the market, they are now producing at a loss.
A farmer from Jigawa State, Nasir Abdul, who raised the alarm, said, “in my area, which is a semi desert region, the land texture has become depleted, so, we have to increase our fertiliser application to make our crop do well. On one hectare of land, I apply six bags of fertiliser, with the price of fertiliser hitting N28, 000 and food prices coming down, I am making little or no gain.
While speaking at an Agroecology workshop organised for farmers at Yangogi Farms by Health of the Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Abdul stressed the need for farmers to embrace agroecology, saying the move will help reclaim “our lands, protect the soil, protect the environment and our health also.”
He stated that agroecology, which utilises organic farm inputs is far better, less expensive and increase yields, as well as farmers profits, compared to inorganic or chemical fertiliser that needed to be applied every year, keeping depleting the soil.”
The Chief Operating Officer of Bethehead foundation, an agro forestry project in Damankosa village, Kwali Area council, Robert Kwasari, while explaining the importance of agroecology, said his farm was set up to change the narrative of conventional agriculture, which is input based,
He explained that agroecology also known as zero budget farm, entails sourcing for inputs from farmers and by so doing they are giving money to the farmers rather than taking it from their pockets. “It is a regenerative method of agriculture where everything happens naturally as against the input based agriculture, “he said.
Speaking on the economic benefits, Kwasari said under this method of farming, farmers’ revenues increase from better yields. Kwari added that farmers could earn about N50m to 60m from trees planting on their farms within four to five years.
He said, “We can prove this because we planted Ukalytus on one hectare of land and from one tree you can earn about N30, 000 from selling the Ukalytus pores and when you multiply it with the 500 trees planted, it’s about N50 million. Now, imagine if you have 10 to 15 types of economic trees, that will definitely increase the revenue base of the farmer.”
Kwasari noted that asidefrom the economic benefits, the benefits of trees to the environment is unquantifiable as they take up carbon dioxide from the air and store it in the soil, saying not only is the farmers earning more but making the environment better.
He, however, mentioned that farmers are used to conventional methods and convincing them from using chemical fertilizer into adopting agroecological method might not be easy, but said government needs to know that providing fertilizer to farmers is not the right way but adopting the eco-friendly method.
The Programme Manager, HOMEF, Joyce Brown, who expressed happiness over the project, said it shows they have been campaigning for works as the farm is a practical demonstration of how agroecology practically works and farmers are being encouraged to transit into agroecology as a way of farming.
She said, “we say return because that is what we were doing even before the advent of new innovations including chemical fertilizer, GMOs and all sorts of things under the industrial agriculture system. So, we are exposing farmers to natural organic method of farming that is very independent of external inputs.
“We are told that the resources they used for farming are sourced from the farm with this they will be able to increase income, farm in an ecological friendly manner and their health will be preserved as well.”
She mentioned that promoters of GMOs and other method of farming do so because of the challenges faced by farmers, especially with drought, pest and diseases among others.
Brown called on the government to invest in agroecology and put an end to supporting introduction of GMO into Nigeria “because we do not need them. With agroecology, we can sustain ourselves and grow food that is healthy, safe and ecological sustainable.”
The founder of women and youths in Agriculture in Nigeria, Mrs. Tejiri Nnena, who doubles as women land right advocate, said the country is blessed “and if we don’t reclaim our land, our land may reclaim us.”