Why food prices are rising, by farmers
Rising insecurity, misdirection of government funds to the agricultural sector, and poor implementation of interventions by the Federal Government have been identified as the leading causes of hike in food prices in the country.
Other causes include multiple taxations on inter-state food transportation by federal, state, and local governments. Some farmers, who craved anonymity, told The Guardian that oftentimes, they have to bribe bandits and herdsmen in their locality to enable them to go to farm unhindered and to ensure cows don’t enter their farms.
“The hike in food prices is not our making. At every level of production, we have to bribe bandits to have hitch-free farming and harvesting,” a farmer said. “Take for instance beans, which come mostly come from the North. Aside from bribing bandits during production, we have to also settle the bandits and security officials, while transporting the produce. All this goes into the cost of production, which we transfer to the end consumer.”
The President, Small Scale Women’s Farmers Organisation of Nigeria (SWOFON), Mary Afan, corroborated the stance on insecurity, saying most of their farmers can no longer farm in the hinterland, and all efforts to engage the Police to provide them with security has proved abortive.
The National President of All Farmers Progressive Association, Ogbo Joseph Douglas, lamented that foodstuff are going beyond the reach of the common man and even farmers cannot afford them, since they cannot produce all crops. He said while Federal Government is making efforts to cushion the hike in food price, those implementing it are sabotaging the effort, as they see it as free money for farmers.
Alleging that the so-called farmers getting the money are their kit and kin, who do not have access to farms, he said out of the intervention to farmers, only 20 per cent gets to them, while the remaining 80 per cent end up in private pockets.
Ogbo said: “That is why most of what government is doing is not commensurate with expectations. If what the government is spending on agriculture is reaching farmers, food prices should have gone down by now. How do you explain a module of beans that sold for N250 last year now going for N1000, or a module of garri that was selling for N100 now selling for N500?”
He further explained that insecurity in the land has made many farmers flee and that many of them are currently in the Internally Displaced Camps, noting that the government has been paying lip service to the issue of insecurity, but until the menace is dealt with, the country must brace up for the worst food insecurity it has ever witnessed.
He said if the rising food prices are not dealt with, the government should prepare for ‘EndHunger’ protest, which would be worse than the EndSARs protest recently witnessed in the country.
He stressed the need to ensure farmers’ return to the farm, as well as aid them with mechanised implements, to enable them to cultivate large hectares of farmland.
He urged the government to begin encouraging farmers to embrace organic fertiliser instead of chemical fertiliser, as the former yield better and faster.
He stressed the need for government to also locate the real farmers with access to lands. To do this, he said there is a need to liaise with organisations piloting such programmes.