Food Security: How paucity of fertilizer threatens harvest in states
The 2016 farming season, for crop farmers, has been one like no other in recent years. It has been fraught with late rains and paucity of inputs like fertilizer.
Farmers were also caught in the web of late approval of the budget and vagaries of climate change and the gale was nationwide, as even the Federal Government is battling with outstanding debts from the GES operations of 2014-2015.
Even when the budget appropriation bill was assented to by President Buhari, the part of Agriculture left for capital project was nothing compared to the outstanding N76bn to GES input suppliers.
In Ondo State, for instance, farmers have decried the acute shortage of fertilizers to boost the outputs of their agricultural products despite the several measures and publications, which the Dr. Olusegun Mimiko-led administration said it has put in place to boost agriculture in the state.
Mr. Oladoyeni Cosmos from Odode, in Idanre Local Government Area, lamented that many cocoa farmers, who have large plantations in the area and other parts, have not got any supply from the government since the beginning of the new planting season.
Oladoyeni noted that farmers in the area have been trying to sort out themselves, getting fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides at very expensive rates since the government has failed in subsidising the cost for them.
“And whenever we get to the government offices, we are always told
that there are no fertilizers on ground. We just had to stop parading the corridors of government establishments and resorted to buying high prices in the market,” he said.
A palm oil farmer, who identified himself as Mr. Zechariah Adesida in Oda, Akure South LGA of the state, said his cassava and palm oil plantations, that span over five hectares of land, have not been faring so well due to shortage of fund and absence of palliatives either from the state or federal government.
Adesida, who also complained about the cost of maintaining the farms, revealed that he spent N5, 000 to N7,000 on a bag of fertilizer, which every season requires over 100 bags for better outputs.
Another cassava farmer in Ugbe-Ayeka, a farm settlement in Okitipupa LGA, Mrs. Ebinone Christianah, faulted the distribution channels of the government for fertilizers and other agricultural inputs meant to assist farmers in the local areas.
Ebinone identified nepotism and fraud among the government agencies, whom she alleged often times divert such government intervention for personal use, families and friends or sell them to unsuspecting farmers in the state.
However, chairman of Ondo State Agricultural Inputs Supply Agency (AISA), Chief Ayo Abiola insists that the Mimiko administration has distributed an unprecedented N680m farm inputs to farmers across the 18 LGAs of the state.
Abiola revealed that the agency, which is saddled with the responsibilities of procuring, distributing and selling agricultural inputs to farmers in the state at subsidised prices, has reduced production cost of farmers, increased their yields and positively improved on their standard of living.
To ameliorate the pains of the farmers in buying the product, the Kano State government has embarked local production.
The Kano State Agricultural Supply Company (KASCO), which had remained dormant for some time, has bounced back to production.
The company, according to investigation, is producing from refuse waste collected by the State Refuse Management and Sanitation Agency (REMASAB), as organic fertiliser.
The governor assured the farmers that they will not experience scarcity of fertiliser, adding that over 30 stores are now stocked. He said some neighbouring states like Kebbi had taken deliveries from Kano.
In Kaduna State, a number of factors affect fertilizer prices, including restriction and checks by Security agencies, bringing urea to about N7000 from N5,200 that it was offered for the previous year, according to Agro dealers. The state is also trying to fill the fertilizer requirements of farmers through local sourcing.
Travails of farmers this season started with the strict clearing required for Urea and other fertilisers inputs, chemicals used by insugents in the manufacture of IEDs.
Though Managing Director, Superphosphate Fertilizer and Chemical Industries Ltd., Danjuma Abdul-Kadiri does not agree with such bottleneck, since even petrol, and empty soft drink cans, also constitute security concern as well. For now, governments of different states are now involved in blending basic fertilizer for its farmers.