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High cost of fertiliser, inadequate manure to worsen low food productivity

By Femi Ibirogba and Ahmad Muhammad, Kano
02 May 2022   |   4:02 am
There are indications that higher cost of fertiliser in the country will lead to low yield per hectare and shortage of food in the country.

• Kano farmers adopt human excreta for manure
There are indications that higher cost of fertiliser in the country will lead to low yield per hectare and shortage of food in the country.

This is as farmers and other stakeholders have raised the alarm that expensive agro-chemicals, including fertiliser, would worsen the extremely low usage of fertiliser among Nigerian farmers, which account for low productivity per hectare.

A World Bank record shows that Nigeria consumed around 20kg of fertiliser per hectare of arable land in 2018, compared with 73kg in South Africa and 393kg in China.

The chairman, All Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Oyo State chapter, Mr Ayinla Olumide, said a 50-kg bag of NPK 15:15:15 is currently about N29,000 in Ibadan, while a bag of urea is N19,000.

An agricultural entrepreneur in Ogun and Oyo states, Mr Sola Olunowo, also expressed concerns over prices of fertiliser, saying he now uses manure to boost land fertility.

A commercial rice farmer in Iwo, Osun State, Mr Popoola Ayoade, who cultivates about 40 hectares of lowland rice, lamented the higher cost of inputs, saying farming activities were being scaled down as most farmers could not secure loans.

Speaking with The Guardian, Ayoade said a bag of 50kg NPK15:15:15 fertiliser is sold at the rate of N17,000, while a bag of urea fertiliser is N18,000.

Also, ploughing one hectare of farmland costs N12,000, rising from about N5,000 in the last two years, he said.

Agro-chemicals, herbicides and insecticides specifically, have also doubled in prices in the last one year.

Ayoade said a one-litre bottle of herbicides (for weed control on his rice farm) was about N1,500 to N2000 last year, but now costs N4,000. The same applies to insecticides used for protection against pests.

He disclosed that the higher prices had not only reduced the number of farmers but also the hectares of land under cultivation.

The rice farmer uses two to three bags of fertiliser per hectare when the price was more affordable, but is unsure of the quantity to apply in the next cultivation.

He called on the Federal Government and states to step in with subsidies on inputs to retain small-scale farmers on the field and ensure food sufficiency.

Another farmer in Oyo State, Adesoye Idowu, said a bag of NPK fertiliser is currently N22,500. He lamented that it was getting out of the reach of most farmers.

Pig, poultry and cow dungs, he explained, have become viable sources of more affordable manure than inorganic fertliliser, calling on the government to take drastic steps to address price of not only fertiliser but also other agricultural inputs.

A commercial poultry farmer and owner of Terudee Farms, Ibadan, Oyo State, Mr John Olateru, said price of a bag of NPK fertiliser was getting out of reach of most farmers at N25,000.

He said alternatives such as poultry and pig dungs were becoming scarce and expensive as most livestock farmers were abandoning operations as costs of feeds and operations were becoming humongous.

A farmer in Ilorin, Bidemi Olusegun, disclosed that a bag of poultry manure from deep litter pens, consisting saw dust and poultry feaces, costs about N700, while a bag of dried poultry manure from battery cages costs about N1000.

He disclosed that about two or three years ago, a bag of either type of poultry manure was around N200, and some farmers would even give them away.

MEANWHILE, farmers in Kano State are gradually resorting to the use of manure from human excreta.

Investigation by The Guardian revealed that farmers growing various crops, such as sorghum, maize, millets, carrots and other vegetables, are currently sourcing compost manure from human excreta excavated from pits latrines.

One of the local pit latrine evacuators, Idi Musa, explained to The Guardian that some farmers contacted him to supply human composts to their farms due to the high prices of fertiliser which has gone beyond their reach.

According to him, they did charge N3,000 per truckload of the human waste. “Initially, we just pour it inside ponds or at refuge dump, but now, farmers book for it to fertilise their crops.”

A farmer in Dante Quarters of Kumbotso Local Government area, Hussain Saeed, said that they found it difficult to afford fertiliser, hence the resort to human composts in preparation for the raining season farming.

Saeed lamented that one bag of fertiliser is about N20,000, apart from other farm inputs, such as insecticides and herbicides, which are also not affordable to most farmers.