Fertilizer is no longer a popular option for many smallholder farmers, which may have an impact on crop production in many rural areas.
Since the start of the wet season, farmers said their personal resources have been depleted by rising living expenses alongside high cost of inputs and services which have translated into an extremely high spike in production expenses.
“Look at my rice farm which I planted on July 25 and it’s looking good. But it will not remain so for long unless I apply Urea fertiliser. But the price in the market is something else. So that is not even on my agenda now. This rice needs at least three bags. That is N75,000 as each bag is now sold at between N24,000 and N26,000. I don’t just have the money,” a farmer, Sunday Kudu, told Daily Trust.
Like him, many farmers in his agrarian community of Aridi, in Lafia Local Government Area of Nasarawa State are currently more concerned about feeding their families, rather than buying fertiliser.
“You know, we don’t produce maize here because our soil is not good for it. We buy it to feed the family but the price surprised many of us this year. Millet and sorghum are even more expensive. If you go to many families, what they are eating now I tell you is cassava flour.
“The suffering is just much. Who is even talking about fertiliser? Maybe those who have a connection with the government or who are civil servants or business people. Those ones can afford fertiliser but the majority of farmers here right now are struggling to feed not to buy fertiliser,” he further said.
In many other villages in the state, the story is almost the same for many farmers.
“I have not seen anyone here who has bought two bags of fertiliser yet,” Musa Ombugu said adding that, “Usually we rely on groundnut and vegetables like chilli and other peppers, which we plant early to sell and buy fertiliser for our rice production.
“This year, erratic rainfall has destroyed many farms. Even those who planted okra did not harvest anything much this year. So it is difficult for people to buy fertiliser. Last week, somebody told me that the price of a bag of Indorama urea was N24,000 in Doma, I don’t know whether it has increased or reduced.”
Egube Okala cultivates yam, maize and other grains in Jenkwe Development Area of the state. He told Daily Trust in Agyaragu that farming is becoming more expensive and productivity getting lower because most farmers can no longer afford basic inputs.
“The cost of agrochemicals, and fertiliser is so high. If you’re buying just two bags of Urea, you need N50,000. Some strong chemicals cost a lot of money. Everything is now very expensive. If you ask people to come and work on your farm, they will charge you lots of money. To be honest, if you don’t have money, farming is difficult now.
“These days, children don’t want to suffer on the farm. Most times, it is those of us who were born into farming that go there day and night to spend most of our time in it. But we no longer have the strength so we need money but where is it?” he asked?
Daily Trust spoke with many farmers must of who said they were yet to buy fertiliser for their rice farms because the cost of food for their families has left them with virtually nothing to buy fertiliser for their farms with.
“What we harvest, we eat from it, we pay school fees from it, we pay hospital bills from it, and we buy clothes from it. So at the end of the day, if you sell beyond what you have to, you will suffer. And you know the harvest may not be the same every year. Some years you harvest plenty and some years less. That is the reason why you see many farmers will go back to buy what they even sold in the beginning of the season because when a problem comes you have to sell to solve it. Problems will not wait until your crops get good price. No,” Sani Maidoya said.
Currently, prices of fertiliser brands differ slightly depending on the location of the seller.
In several locations across the nation, Golden Fertilizer NPK 15:15:15 is sold at between N34,000 and N35,000. Most locations sell Wacot Bounty 20:10:10 fertilizer for about N20,000, Matrix Fertilizer’s 20:10:10 costs up to N26,000 and Tak Agro 20:10:10 fertilizer sells for more than N20,000.
The price of NPK fertilizer varies based on the size of the bag; some come in 25kg bags, while others come in 50kg bags.
There are other fertiliser brands that are either slightly less expensive or significantly more expensive. However, depending on the brand and quality, the prices vary, with the 15:15:15 blends being the most expensive. The majority of wealthy farmers buy imported ones but they are even more expensive.
Nigeria has three major urea producers, with a combined yearly production capacity of more than six million metric tons.
The three major producers of urea in 50kg bags are Dangote, Notore and Indorama. While Notore and Indorama produce at Eleme in Port Harcourt, River State, Dangote produces at its plant in Lekki, Lagos.
However, due to transportation, the cost of these three brands varies slightly towards the North. The prices range between N22,000 and N26,000, and some farmers must spend extra to transport it to their fields in far rural areas.
Earlier in the season, many stakeholders, including producers, predicted a fall in the prices of the commodity but the government floating of the naira, and the removal of fuel subsidy triggered inflation that affected prices of consumer goods due to high cost of transportation, energy and a collapse in the value of the naira raising the cost of importing agriculture materials.