As the country experiences dry season, farmers across the country are faced with the challenges of irrigating their farms and controlling of some insects and pest which destroy crops during this season.
At the Gado Nasko Farms in Kubwa, Abuja, which covers over 100 hectares, the farmers are predominantly vegetable farmers whose major means of livelihood is farming pumpkins, garden eggs and other vegetables.
The farmers complained that they have not felt the presence of government in their farms, adding that they have been buying fertilisers, chemicals and other farm inputs by themselves without government assistance.
The farmers said currently, because of the dry season, they are being faced with pests and insects attacking their vegetable farms and the cost of buying chemicals and sprayers have increased due to forex scarcity.
When the Nigerian Tribune spoke with one of the farmers, Paul Sunday, who has been farming for over five years, he said pumping machines and chemicals to control pests and insects have been the major challenge he face in his farm.
According to him “During this dry season period, we are faced with a lot of insects and pests attacking our crops and we really need government to come to our aid. “During the dry season, you have to irrigate your farm at least two times in a week to get the crops booming, so we need irrigation facilities and spraying machines fumigate the farm from insects and pests.
“We appeal to the government not divert the fund meant for agriculture, it should be channelled towards development of the youths through agriculture.
“In our country, I want to believe that most government have been trying their best but the fund meant for agriculture have been diverted to individual pockets, I want to believe that the present government will look into that, if they want to help the farmers they should know how to go about it not to give the funds to individuals, they should direct it to the farmers so that the funds can reach them.”
The National President of the Grassroots Farmers Development Initiative of Nigeria (GFDIN), Anthony Eze, who said he has been assisting the farmers, said if the government could provide these irrigation facilities and other farm inputs for the farmers even as loans, the farmers would pay back as at when due.
“The major challenge farmers face during the dry season, is water pumping machine, some of their crops are dying already due to lack of irrigation facilities for dry season farming, if the government can also assist the farmers purchase water pumps, and give to them, they will pay back, anything the government can do to assist, these farmers will pay back, even loans, these farmers are sincere, they can’t run away, this is their handwork, many of them have been here for more than 10 years, farming is their major occupation, many of them are graduates. We have their details in our data base; they can’t run away, we can track them to any length,” he added.
He said his organisation has been able to reach the rural areas across the country and identified and registered over two million farmers and since then, the organisation had tried to get across to the government to assist the farmers, but all efforts have proven abortive.
Another farmer, Nnenna Ekwueme, who has been into vegetable since her graduation in 2009, said that sometimes, the farmers fetch water from boreholes to water their farms because they lack irrigation facilities.
She also pointed out high cost of fertiliser and lack of chemicals and other farm inputs as their major challenges especially during the dry season farming.
“I have been farming since I graduated from the higher institution in 2009. We are facing numerous challenges; we are more than hundred farmers here basically for vegetable.
“Inadequate fertiliser has been a greatest challenge here, then in the dry season, we lack pumping machine to irrigate our farm during the dry season, also insects attack our farms during the dry season, so we need chemicals. The government should help us with chemicals to help the vegetable to grow very well.
“We don’t have access to the federal government; we don’t even know how we can channel our complaints to them. Each time we read on the media that government keeps disbursing millions on naira in agriculture but it does not get to us. I use about three bags of fertiliser in my farm but the price of fertilizer has increased to about N9500 per bag in the market and I can afford it.”
Eze, in his submission, said his association has been trying to purchase fertilisers directly from the manufacturers and supply to the farmers at subsidised rates, but chemicals have been very difficult to supply in recent times because more than 70 per cent of the chemicals used by farmers are imported.
“In the issue of fertiliser, we purchase fertiliser from manufacturers, in fact we go as far as we can to pay them up front to enable them manufacture these fertilizers and supply it to our farmers at a cheaper rate, we ensure the price of fertilizer is very cheap to our members nationwide, we have been able to purchase truck to deliver these fertilizer right to the farmers’ farm to assist them.
“The issue of chemical is a serious issue because over 70 per cent of the chemicals being used by farmers in Nigeria are imported and the importers themselves will demand 100 per cent upfront payment before they import these chemicals and bring it to your farm, and we do not have all the resources in doing this.
It is pertinent for the government to hear the cry of farmers regardless of the value chain they operate on, analysts said, as these farmers need the support of the government to help the government achieve one of its plans of becoming food