Farmers urge States, FG to provide farm inputs to boost production

 As the rainy season sets in, farmers across the country have urged government at all levels to make farm inputs like fertiliser and seedlings available to farmers
The farmers across the six geo-political zones made the appeal in a survey conducted by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) across the country.
Most farmers and stakeholders who spoke with NAN urged the Federal and State Governments to de-politise the distribution of fertilisers in the interest of the nation.
Across to them, genuine farmers do not benefit from governments' intervention in the agricultural sector, due to politicisation and corruption.
They contended that, most times, those who benefit from the government programmes had no business with farming.
The farmers advocated for the setting up of commodity boards, to mop up farm produce at competitive price to reduce losses, and make farming more attractive.
Alhaji Tijjani Mamman-Bakori, Katsina State Chairman, Zumunta Farmers Cooperative Society, said such intervention would encourage farmers, as they would now have access to farm inputs and ready market for their produce.
He said that government must make farming viable and lucrative to attract more people particularly the youth into the business.
According to him, most small scale farmers have not been benefiting from government support programmes in agriculture.
Mamana-Bakori alleged that the vast proportions of those benefiting from fertiliser and other farming grants have no interest in agricultural business.
The farmer noted that soya beans and groundnut farmers in the country have recorded huge loss due mass importation of cooking oil into the country.
He urged the government to extend its rice programme to cover soya beans and groundnut farmers.
He advised farmers to start planting early and use improved seeds to avoid losses, in view of the rainfall prediction for the year.
The chairman, who had 45 years farming experience, called for more funding and supports to the agricultural sector to reduce unemployment and enhance food security.
Another farmer, Alhaji Rabi’u Lawal-Maska, also complained about the implementation of government programmes in agriculture, saying that most farmers had no access to such programmes.
Lawal-Maska identified poor pricing of produce as a major challenge, which had discouraged farming activities.
The State Secretary of National Cotton Traders Association of Nigeria, Malam Sama’ila Lawal, said cotton farmers were facing various difficulties during cultivation and are discouraged by the price of the commodity.
He said government must make access to seeds, fertilizer and other inputs easier.
Lawal advised the Federal Government not to abandon the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) and the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) Scheme of the last administration.
He also urged northern state governments to boost cotton cultivation as it provides jobs to millions of Nigerians.
He described the procedures involved in obtaining agricultural loans as ``too cumbersome,'' and should be made accessible to all categories of farmers.
Malam Iliya Mazadu, Secretary of Yaba Cotton Farmers Cooperative Society in Malumfash Local Government, advised farmers to join cooperative societies to benefit from incentives and new farming methods.
A farmer, Malam Abdulruf Suleiman, commended the e-wallet fertiliser distribution under the ATA, and the distribution of fertiliser at polling units introduced by Gov. Aminu Masari.
However, Alhaji Umar Yusuf, Chairman, Jame Seed Company Ltd in Funtua, complained of low patronage in spite of the commencement of the rainy season.
He urged relevant stakeholders to enlighten farmers on the need to use certified improved seeds to enhance their production.
NAN report that planting had commenced in most parts of the state, and already prices of grains had gone up.
At present a bag of maize is being sold at between N9, 600 to N10, 200, Guinea corn is N9, 000 to 9, 200, Millet N10, 000, Soya beans N11, 000, white beans N16, 000, pepper N18, 000 and local rice N24,600 per bag.
Meanwhile,Katsina  state government will purchase 20,000 metric tons of fertilizer for sales to farmers at subsidised rate for the 2016 wet season farming.
Alhaji Mannir Yakubu, the Deputy Governor and Commissioner for Agriculture, said additional 11,000 metric tons would be purchased for the dry season farming.
The deputy governor said that it was the state government’s decision to ensure all year round cultivation.
He also revealed that government was making efforts to purchase tractors and irrigation kits for distribution to the 361 wards in the state to guarantee partial mechanization.
Yakubu also said that the state was selected for the Youth Empowerment in Agriculture Programme of the Federal Government, which would run for three years with support of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The deputy governor pointed out that the programme was envisaged to provide job opportunities to 20, 500 graduates between the ages of 18 to 35 in the state.
``Already 1,300 youths have scaled the joint evaluation conducted by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development,’’ he said.
In his contribution, the Managing Director of Katsina State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (KTARDA), Ibrahim Musawa, said that the government has procured improved variety of seedlings to boost farming production.
Musawa revealed that the government has purchased maize, millet, guinea corn and irish potato from the agricultural research institute in Zaria for distribution to farmers.
He said that government had also purchased improved seedlings of groundnuts, cocoyam and cotton for distribution to farmers.
The managing director disclosed that the state government had also purchased a special brand of millet from Lake Chad Development Authority, as well as pesticides for distribution to farmers at subsidised price.
He lamented that over 70 per cent of agric extension workers in the state had retired, adding that the state government now rely on local council agric staff to provide skeletal extension services to local farmers.
Dr Lawal Abdullahi of the Department of Agriculture, Federal University, Dutssin-ma, called for supply of enough fertiliser to local farmers to boost food production.
Abdullahi said that the farmers were facing difficulty in accessing subsidised fertilizer.
The lecturer appealed to the state government to grant soft loan to farmers and provide necessary farm inputs including tractors to boost mechanised farming. 
He advised farmers to set up cooperative societies, to make it easier for them to secure loan from agricultural banks to boost their production.
In Kebbi, the state government said it would expand the scope of partnership with national and international stakeholders to boost agricultural production and food security.
The Programme Manager, State Agricultural and Rural Development Agency, Alhaji Sanusi Usman, told NAN that dry season and wet season farming would be expanded through empowerment of farmers.
He said government would make access to credit facilities easier for farmers, to boost production.
Usman said already, credit facilities had been issued to 70,000 Rice and Wheat farmers under the CBN anchor borrowers’ programme.
He added that a total of 50, 000 farmers had received loans and improved seedlings from West African Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP).
The programme manager also said that adequate budgetary provision had been made for the procurement of fertiliser, seedlings and other farming inputs.
Mr Wang Xuemin, Director, Agro-input Trade Business Department of Green Agriculture in West Africa, assured that the organisation would sustain the supply of improved seeds to farmers.
The state Chairman of Rice Farmers Association (RIFAN), Alhaji Muhammad Sahabi, said the group had begun registration of wet season rice farmers.
According to him, the state government has made arrangements for the procurement of fertiliser for farmers.
"We don't have a fertiliser issues in Kebbi because it was well captured in the state agricultural programmes,'' he said.
A large scale farmer, Alhaji Umar Dan-Asabe, however, called for improvement in the methods for fertiliser sales and distribution, saying he was unable to procure the commodity from government last year.
``I was one of the farmers that the state government screened and registered for its programme, I was only given two pumping machines and three bottles of chemicals to spray on the farm.
``I urge government to provide fertiliser for wet season farming, especially as rainfall had commenced in some areas and planting done by farmers", he added.
Dan-Asabe identified lack of fertiliser, tractors and chemicals as major challenges facing farming activities in the state.
Malam Ubale Sule appealed to government to always release fertiliser on time, to ease farmers’ worries.
Reports from Kano said that the state government has concluded arrangements to supply farmers with over 300, 000 bags of fertiliser for this year's wet farming season.
Alhaji Bala Mohammed, the Managing Director of the State Agricultural Supply Company told NAN that the government would also supply improved seeds to farmers.
``We shall also supply vegetable seeds, assorted chemicals and sell irrigation pumps to Fadama farmers.
"Other items to be distributed to farmers include farm implements and equipment like sprayers, grinding mills and animal drawn ridges," he said.
The Managing Director further said that the company would also supply fertiliser to farmers in Jigawa, Katsina and other neighbouring states.
He said the state government would use its ware houses at Garki, Ladi Makoda and Mariri to store seeds and fertiliser for sale to farmers.
Farmers in Ogun, on their own part, called on the state government to assist in facilitating access to credit facilities and farm inputs in order to boost food production.
Some of the farmers also expressed regrets that lack of farm inputs and credit facilities had prevented them from taking advantage of the early rains in 2016.
Mr Olusegun Dasaolu, the Chairman of Ogun Chapter of AFAN, told NAN that ``while the rainy season is on, farmers have not actually accessed any input and funds to work with.``
``I believe the problem of the late budget has limited the supply of these essential facilities to our farmers and it is affecting us.
``Now that the problem of the budget has been solved, the government should please help us to increase access to various agricultural credit facilities and also supply us with farm inputs.
``I think there is need for proactive action by the Federal Government and the state government because agriculture is time-bound.
Report from Kaduna indicated that the state government would soon commence the distribution of 70,000 tonnes of fertilisers to farmers for the 2016 cropping season.
It also said that farmers would be provided with assorted farm inputs to ensure bumper harvest during the season.
Dahiru Abdullahi, Public Relations Officer of the State Agricultural Development Authority told NAN the government is partnering with the Flour Mills Nig. Ltd to provide fertilisers to farmers across the 23 Local Government Areas of the state.
He said that the company would provide the commodity while the State Government would provide the warehouses across the Local Government Areas to store the fertiliser.
The official said the commodity included 35, 000 tonnes of NPK 15:15 and 35,000 of Urea, SPP and others varieties of fertilisers to be sold directly by the company.
According to him, the state government had concluded a separate arrangement with other companies to provide the commodity to commercial farmers in the state.
Abdullahi said Gov. Nasiru El-Rufa'i would soon launch the sales of the commodity in Giwa Local Government Area.
The official disclosed that each farmer would be allocated four bags, adding that the first batch of the fertilisers had been delivered to the various warehouses.
NAN learnt that farmers would procure the commodity through direct sales from the five stores and warehouses in the local governments.
The official said that the state government had equally engaged various companies to provide farmers with assorted seeds, insecticides and other farm inputs to enhance crop yield.
On soft loans for farming, Abdullahi said 6, 950 maize farmers under various cooperative societies would benefit from the N2 billion loan allocated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
He said the farmers comprised of 5,502 male and 1,348 female would cultivate about 16, 770 hectares across the state.
The PRO told NAN that 521 cooperative societies had been registered under the Rice-Value Chain programme in the state.
Abdullahi said the four banks: Zenith, FCMB, Heritage and IBTC - would disburse the loan to selected farmers.
He said that the loan would attract nine per cent interest, which is payable within one year.
The official said Rice, Sorghum, Ginger and Soya beans farmers are the major beneficiaries of the N2 billion CBN loan in the current farming season in the state.
He said officials are currently verifying applications of individual farmers and their cooperative organisations to commence disbursement of the loans.
``But new applications are trickling in from hundreds of thousands of farmers across the state,`` he said.
On his part, the Chairman All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) , Kaduna state, Nuhu Aminu, said the association is collaborating with the state government to secure adequate fertiliser for its members.
Aminu told NAN that about 500,000 farmers would benefit from the 70,000 metric tonnes of fertilisers available in the state.
He said that a separate arrangement had been made to provide fertilisers for the 800,000 commercial farmers in the state.
Aminu, however, said that the proposed N6,500 cost for each bag of fertiliser is too expensive for the small holder farmers in the state.
He said the association would propose N4,200 for each bag of fertiliser, and five bags of the commodity for each farmer as against the four being proposed by the government.
The chairman said that AFAN would cultivate 200 hectares of land during the current farming season.
According to him, the association is working to ensure that members access a minimum of N250, 000 each from the CBN loan to enhance food production in the state.
He said the loan facility would assist farmers to procure other farm inputs including tractors, seeds, and insecticides.
In Zamfara, the state branch of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), said the Federal Government should interface with all stakeholders in its plan to promote agriculture.
The Vice Chairman of the association, Alhaji Ahmad Sa'idu, said farmers must be empowered to invest in agriculture.
He noted that government policies in the past had not taken into consideration genuine aspirations of farmers in terms of access to credit facilities, fertiliser and other farming inputs.
"It had been a problem that we faced during previous governments in the country, whenever they introduced programme on agriculture, the farmers do not get access to what was put in place.
"So on behalf of the entire farmers in Zamfara, we welcome the government's focus on agriculture and are ready to give maximum support and cooperation.
''As farmers, if we get farm inputs like fertiliser, improved seeds at subsidised rate, it will increase our production, and this will ensure food security in the country," Sa'adu added.
A farmer, Alhaji Musa Haruna said agriculture has the capacity to solve Nigeria's massive unemployment rate.
"All this problems of unemployment faced by our youth and economic challenges will be history if priority is given to the agriculture sector, " he said.
Zamfara Commissioner of Agriculture, Alhaji Lawal Jangebe said the state had introduced the Comprehensive Agricultural Revolution Programme to provide support to farmers groups.
Jangebe said under the programme, thousands of farmers that belong to cooperative societies would be supported with farm inputs at subsidised rate, while government would buy off their produce at the end of the season.
Alhaji Musa Raji, the Federal Director of Agriculture in the state, said the new Federal Government policy on agriculture would create employment and improve farmers’ output.
Report from Yola says the Adamawa Government is to establish agricultural centres in the 21 Local Government Areas of the state.
The State’s Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Waziri Ahmadu, told NAN that the centre would assist the state farmers to access low cost agricultural inputs in their communities.
``The development is to provide farmer easy access to farm inputs like fertilisers, seeds, herbicides, among others,” Ahmadu said.
On early rainfall being experienced in the state, he said it was good for the farming season as farmers in southern part of the state had taken the advantage to commence planting.
The commissioner said that government was making arrangement with some certified organisations on how to introduce inventory credit scheme for rural farmers.
Ahmadu said government had procured and distributed 250,000 metric tonnes of fertilisers to farmers in state.
He said through Public/Private Partnership, the state had placed order for 250 tractors, 50 combined harvesters’ machine and other relevant agricultural machines.
However, Mr Abbo Jiddere, the state Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) said availability of credit, fertiliser and other necessary agricultural inputs were major challenges facing rural farmers in the state.
According to reports from Bauchi, no fewer than 210 small scale farmers have so benefited from a loan package initiated by the state government in collaboration with the Bank of Agriculture (BOA).
Alhaji Mansur Manu-Soro, the Special Assistant to Gov. Mohammed Abubakar on Development Partners and NGOs, said this was in line with the understanding reached between the bank and the state government.
Manu-Soro said the understanding was to provide farmers with access to credit facilities.
``So far, a total of 210 farmers have been paid under the first batch, while that of the second batch is being processed,’’ he said.
He appealed to farmers who had applied for the loan and yet to get it to be patient as more loans would be disbursed under the second phase.
One of the beneficiaries, Mahmud Shuaibu, a farmer from Katagum Local Government Area of the state commended the governor for the gesture.
A source in state ministry of agriculture, who preferred anonymity, said the state governor had given approval for the procurement of 150,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser.
The source said the commodity would be distributed to farmers in the state for the 2016 cropping season.
He also said that the governor had approved the release funds to the State Agricultural Input Procurement Company, for the purchase of insecticides, herbicides and other farm implements.
According to him, the inputs would be sold to farmers at subsidised rate. (NAN)


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