Soybean farmers in Benue State are optimistic of bumper harvest this year despite the challenge of inadequate and high cost of fertiliser in the market.
A soybean farmer in Gboko, Titus Atondo, told our correspondent in Makurdi that he expected bumper harvest this year.
He said his eight-hectare soybean farm located at Mbatiav in Gboko Local Government Area of the state showed promise of a good season.
Atondo said he planted between early July and August 15, this year and was optimistic the crop would produce good yield, adding that the plant looked very good at its current stage.
He had planted three bags of soybean seedling and so far spent not less than N100,000 on the farm, and is expecting to spend another N100,000 in applying fertiliser and hiring labourers before and during harvest, according to the farmer.
The harvest, he estimates would be due from late November into early December.
“The prospect of bumper harvest raises my hope as I expect to make huge income from the farm. Usually, at harvest time, a bag of soybean will cost N10,000, but it rises in February and will be sold between N15,000 and N20,000,” he said.
Atondo, who said he started cultivating soybean about 30 years ago, disclosed that he had built a four-bedroom flat from his farm earnings, adding that last year, he harvested only 46 bags of soybean, which he sold at N14,000 per bag and realised almost N700,000.
He said this year’s harvest would be more because he planted more seeds than last year, and so would likely reap over 60 bags, which at the end of the day may fetch him over N800,000.
The farmer, however, expressed worry over high cost of agricultural inputs, especially fertiliser, which he said, tripled recently following the closure of land borders by the Federal Government.
“As we speak, a bag of SSP fertiliser costs as much as N14,000 instead of N5,600 that we used to buy it. We are now going to rely on liquid fertiliser, which costs N1500 per litre. It means I will need 24 litres of the liquid fertiliser for my farm, at the cost of N36,000. That will be more economical. Manpower has also become a huge financial challenge,” he added.
Similarly, a big time farmer, Vitalis Tarnongu, who said he planted 340 hectares of farmland, including his out-grower programme, added that he was sure of bumper harvest.
He said he expected to harvest at least 21 bags per hectare, which will translate to multiple incomes for himself and his partners in the out-grower scheme.
For him, the only challenge experienced so far was inadequacy of rainfall at the beginning of planting in July, which he said affected parts of the farm.
“But that’s no reason to worry. The plants are doing well and I expect a bumper harvest,” Tarnongu said.
On his part, the chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in Benue State, Comrade Aondongu Saaku, expressed worry over lack of fertiliser for soybean farmers in the state.
He, however, observed that despite the lack of fertiliser, the farmers are going to have bumper harvest on their soybean farms.
He said fertiliser was not at the reach of the soybean farmers in the state this year, noting that that was going to play a role in the harvest of the crop in areas of the state where farmers were unable to apply the input in their farms.
“Farmers resorted to organic fertiliser at the cost of N2,000 per litre while the NPK was sold at N7,000 at the open market. This is because the government fertilizer was nowhere to be found at the time soybean was being cultivated.
“This challenge will affect harvest in some places, but those who have applied fertiliser already will surely enjoy bumper harvest.
“Another challenge was the availability of good seeds, but the plants are doing well without any infestation,” the AFAN chairman stated.
Source: Daily Trust