Loans, fertiliser, improved seedlings not within our reach - farmers

 Farmers in Pankshin and Bokkos Local Government areas in Plateau have said that loans, fertiliser and improved seedlings are not within their reach thus hampering their efforts to boost food production.
Some of the farmers, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Pankshin, described the situation they found themselves as ``very pathetic.’’
The Secretary of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) Pankshin branch, Mr Gambo Kargung, said that beside fertiliser, which is available in the market at exorbitant prices, farmers enjoy nothing from government.
`` I am not aware of anyone that has ever obtained any soft agricultural loan among the farmers in Pankshin.
``We were a bit lucky last year the council sold some bags of fertiliser to us at N4,000 each, which to our members was on the high side but we had no option; this year, there is nothing at all.
``The truth is that no Local Government has distributed fertiliser for this wet season, though some of us have cultivated our farms and planted crops already,’’ he said.
Kargung disclosed that the Commissioner for Agriculture distributed a little tomato seeds to them for the irrigation farming and that ``beside that nothing else came.’’
Corroborating what Kargung said, Mr Sunday Mabas, who is also the Chairman, Plateau Traders and Marketers Association, Bokkos Branch, told NAN that scarcity of fertiliser would seriously affect farmers this farming season.
``The situation we, farmers, found ourselves this season, is a sharp contrast to what we experienced last year.
``In fact, last year our council (Bokkos) purchased 20 tonnes of fertiliser and sold it to us at subsidised rates but this time around the story is different; loan is another sorry story, `` he said.
Mabas called on government to do something about provision of soft loans and adequate fertiliser for farmers to encourage food production in the state.
According to him, it is the rural farmers that are feeding the entire nation, yet the government is not making things easy for farmers to continue with the good works.
In his comment, Mr Stephen Jings, Chairman, Pankshin Local Government and State ALGON Chairman, said efforts were being made to see that fertiliser is purchased and distributed to farmers for the season.
``This government is out to diversify in agriculture and will do all it could to support farmers to boost food production to feed the state and the nation at large,’’ Jings said. 


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