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As wet season sets in, prices of seeds scare farmers

Apart from the rising cost of fertiliser, which sells between N17,000 and N20,000, the cost of certified and hybrid seeds is adding to farmers’ woes…

Apart from the rising cost of fertiliser, which sells between N17,000 and N20,000, the cost of certified and hybrid seeds is adding to farmers’ woes as the wet season planting activities draw closer across major agroecological zones.

Farmers rely heavily on fertiliser, quality seeds and agrochemicals to achieve a good yield, but even the prices of agrochemicals in the market have gone up by more 100 per cent in some places.

Currently, a rice farmer will require over N60,000 to buy certified seeds for one hectare of land as 1kg costs N600 from N400 per kg sold last year. A farmer needs at least 100kg to plant a hectare.

The prices for hybrid seeds are even higher and many farmers are concerned as reports from our correspondents across the states indicate.

Speaking to Daily Trust in Zaria, a maize farmer, Haliru Hamza Kakaki, expressed worry over the increase even before the commencement of rainy season.

Kakaki noted that the prices of both lowland and upland seed variety for maize have jumped up by almost 30 percent compared to its initial price as at this time last year.

“I want to advise farmers, especially those that have the means to hasten the purchase of their seed now, because the prices may increase profoundly when rainfall begins,” he said.

Also speaking, Musa Dogara, a rice farmer, noted with concerns the early increase in price of rice seed variety by most of the seed companies in Zaria.

“Just this week, I went to price rice seed (faro-44) for lowland and realized that one kilogram cost N600 instead of N270 bought last year,” he noted.

In an interview with our reporter in Zaria, an accountant with SEED-CO, an African Seed Company, Mr. Victor Ameh, attributed the increase in prices to cost of transportation which invariably was as a result of both diesel and premium motor spirit, PMS.

He explained that the price of maize seed 719 variety meant for late maturity for 2 kilogram is N300, 

 Maize 510 (Red variety seed) for both dry and rainy season with yielding duration of three months costs N2,300 per 2kg and can provide 5-6 tons per hectare, while Maize 651 (medium maturity) costs N1,800 per 2kg but can yield 6-7 tons per hectares.

Mr. Ameh further explained that for rice seed variety, 1kg of Faro-44, 52, 58, 59, 60, 61 and 66 costs N600.

For soybeans, the 1904 and 1951 seed varieties cost N700 and N800 respectively per 1kg, while Sorghum SK seed variety cost N600 per 1kg. 

In Niger State, a farmer, Tanimu Doma, told our correspondent that prices of agro seeds have increased this year compared to the last rainy season.

“This year, prices have changed totally because last year, we got rice at the cost of N400 per kilogram but this year, it is N600 per kilogram. Soybeans was sold at N500 per kilogram last year but it is N650 per kilogram this year. Guinea corn that was sold at N350 per kilogram last year is N500 per kilogram this year. We also have hybrid seed at N1, 500 per kg,” he said.

Also speaking, a rice farmer in Kontagora, Shehu Kamaye, expressed concern that many farmers might resort to grains if seeds are not affordable.

“On Wednesday, I bought rice seeds at the cost of N500 per kilogram. I have started preparing for the next season. And the effect of this is that when, as a farmer, you buy inputs at a high price, there will not be much profit at the end of the day. So, you run your farm at a loss because even if you decide to increase price at end of the day, the consumers would not be able to buy, and if you peg down the price, you lose,” he said.

In Kano, findings at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) show that a kilogram of millet seed is sold at N600, maize seed at N600, faro44 rice seeds at N800, Soybeans seed at N800 and beans seed at N800 as well.

But in the open market in the state, our correspondent discovered that a kg of maize seed is N750 to N800, Soybeans seeds N1,000, beans N1,000 while rice seed is N1,300 to N1,500 per kg.  

Similarly, with the recent development in the prices of the seeds, many farmers in the state believe that they will have to pay more for seeds during this year’s rainy season and as such stands little chance as the seeds may be unaffordable to most farmers.

According to a farmer in Gofaru Village of Gezawa Local Government Area of Kano, Malam Surajo Baffa, the current price of seeds is worrisome as it keeps increasing even before the commencement of the rainy season.

He explained that though research institutes provide seeds at reasonable prices, only those in the city have access to such seeds.

“We were made to understand that good seed is the foundation of good yield, but the way the price of these seeds being produced and introduced to farmers by seeds companies and agricultural research institutes skyrocket, calls for serious attention as many farmers cannot afford as well as access it,” he lamented.

Another farmer, Malam Curoma Yusuf of Kutama village, revealed that taking into consideration the rate at which seed price is increasing, farmers will be left with no option than to make use of seeds that are available to them. According to him, “it is not possible for a farmer with a huge farm size to use seed selling at N1,500 on his farm because he can’t afford it.”

In Katsina State, Daily Trust reports that farmers in the state, who are predominantly peasants, have over the years relied on open markets to source their seeds particularly sorghum, beans, soybeans and rice but the current prices of certified seeds might be too costly for them.  

Abdulrazak Yusuf, a farmer in Kankara LGA, said most of them were more confident selecting sorghum or beans seeds in open market than to buy improved seeds sealed in a package.

“Our main considerations are high yield and quality; where a certain seed is tested and proved to be profitable to us, then we all look for it en mass.  We are skeptical of using packaged improved seeds for fear of being disappointed, especially taking into consideration that the ones distributed in anchor – borrowers scheme were not good ones,” he said.

Another farmer, Alhassan Lawal, said seed has never been a problem to them as they cherish their traditional way of sourcing them.

“Take rice for example, its varieties have local names like ‘Jamila, Jeep, Yar’gidan yarima, hikima’ etc connoting their yield, quality or areas they are mostly produced. We have packaged improved rice seeds here, same with beans and soybeans. The abolition of agricultural extension workers has left farmers to their own devices in almost all the farming processes,” said Alhassan Lawal.

An Agro-Allied dealer at Bakori Market, Alhaji Rufa’i Yellow, said most of the improved seeds farmers were asking for were that of maize.

“Improved maize seeds is the most sought for by farmers in this area; it is on rare occasion that they ask for sorghum. Price is one of the factors driving farmers away,” he said.

Daily Trust discovered that ‘Oba Super 6’ maize seeds are sold between N1,200 and N1,500 at Dandume, Funtua and Bakori markets.

In Jos, the Plateau State capital and some other parts of the state, our correspondent reports that the prices of seeds have also gone up.

A seeds seller in Gengere market (behind old JUTH) in Jos, Auwalu Zaki, said a kg of local rice ranges from N600 to N750 depending on the type. 

Zaki said beans equally ranges in price, explaining that iron beans is N700, small beans is N650, while medium beans is N700 also.

He said soybean is N600, while maize is N330 (both yellow and white).

Observers said the rising prices of farm inputs will no doubt affect the productivity of many smallholder farmers.

The federal Ministry of Agriculture is yet to make public the arrangements being made regarding seeds for the forthcoming wet season farming but a senior official of the ministry said something would be done before the season commences.

By Vincent A. Yusuf (Abuja), Abubakar Sadiq Mohd (Zaria), Abubakar Akote (Minna), Ibrahim Musa Giginyu (Kano), Mahmoud Idris (Katsina) & Dickson S. Adama (Jos)

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