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July 29, 2011

Nigerian farmers complain subsidized inputs don't reach them

by Toryila Kajo, Makurdi And Halima Musa

While government says it spent huge sum of money in the procurement of fertilizer with the intention of selling it to farmers at subsidized price, famers complain that the farm inputs hardly reach them. Farmers are grumbling that they cannot access support from government. Getting fertilizer which should be readily available for instance is a herculean task.

A cross section of farmers in Benue State have said that they are yet to access the N2 billion agricultural loan promised them by the federal government. They also said getting necessary inputs for this cropping season has been troubling.

The chairman of Potatoes Growers' Association in Vandeikya local government area, Mr Thaddeus Nyam said ..."our soil is over used and requires the application of fertilizer which is very scarce now."

Another farmer, Mr. Joseph Chior who is chairman of Cassava Growers' Association in the state said he decided to visit the state's office of All Farmers' Association of Nigeria (AFAN) to know why the government's loan is not forthcoming.

The Cassava Growers Association chairman lamented that the month of July (which is half way the farming season) is almost gone without Benue State farmers having money to purchase fertilizer which is sold at N7,000 per bag in the black market.

Collaborating their claims, the state secretary to AFAN, Chief Samuel Kwaghna said since October, 2010, he received a letter from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) saying that about N2 billion commercial agriculture loan facility would be disbursed to farmers in Benue State for which over 2,800 groups submitted their loan proposals but nothing has come out of this.

Farmers in Kano said they were able to get little subsidised fertilizer. Mallam Umar Ibrahim said he was given one bag to share with two others. According to him, the quantity was quite inadequate.

Ibrahim said many rural farmers are still ignorant on how to access agro-allied facilities, adding that there is need for more sensitization on the part of government. He advised government to be sincere in its efforts to support agriculture in the state.

A female farmer who owns a farm in Bunkure local government area said she was able to access some assistance for her farmers group. "We have been able to get fertilizer and insecticides from the commercial agriculture project. We normally give 50 percent of the amount and the project would give the other 50 percent," she disclosed

Speaking on the assistance given the farmers by the Kano State government, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Alhaji Muhammad Badawi said...there was no government that can satisfy the fertilizer needs of all Kano farmers, stressing that now government needs to purchase N16billion worth of fertilizer to meet the needs of Kano farmers.

He maintained that what government does is to give subsidised inputs so that instead of buying them at exorbitant prices in the market, the farmers get them at cheaper rates. He maintained that farmers bought a bag of fertiliser this at N1,900 as against the market price of N5000.

The second phase he said is the procurement of tractors. Badawi said the state government in collaboration with the federal government will procure about 80 tractors which will be sold to farmers groups at a subsidized rates.

"Under this arrangement the state and with federal governments will pay 40 percent of the amount and farmers will pay the remaining 60 percent. So if the tractor is bought at N5million, farmers will get it at N3million. Government has set aside N63million for the procurement of the tractors," he announced.

The last phase as disclosed by the Perm Sec is training of farmers on how to go about farming activities in more profitable ways. He said government has set aside another N63million for the revival of the five agric schools located in Gwarzo, Rano, Dambatta and Kadawa. If revived, the schools will embark on training of farmers on how to use cattle to plough the land establish fisheries, poultry and livestock farming.

He explained that through the Fadama III and the commercial agric project, farmers have received assistance to the tune of N138m and N186million from the two projects. The process of accessing these assistances was through the formation of farmer's associations at the ward and state level.

Daily Trust

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