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Bauchi farmers, others seek ways to overcome COVID-19 impacts

Farmers in Bauchi struggling to mitigate impact of Covid-19

Farmers in Bauchi State have expressed worry over the 100 percent increment in farming inputs which they said is impacting yields and food production.

They raised the concern on Tuesday during a virtual meeting tagged, “Emerging Challenges in Agriculture And Appropriate Action by the Bauchi State Government” organized by the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding-Nigeria (WANEP-Nigeria) and Oxfam in Nigeria.

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According to the farmers, the lockdown imposed by the state government due to the COVID-19 pandemic affected their businesses.

One of the farmers, Ahmed Wakili, who said that the lockdown presented them from irrigation farming, added that bags of fertilizer that used to be sold at N6,000 each now go for N12,000 indicating 100 percent increment.

Another farmer, Abubakar Jafar Ilelah, said they lack virtually all agricultural inputs supply, especially the agrochemicals due to the pandemic.

According to him, the prices rose to the extent that farmers cannot afford the farming inputs at the market.

He acknowledged that the Bauchi State government provided fertilizers, it was not enough and could not reach the rural and smallholder farmers.

Also, Nurudeen Abdullahi, said the pandemic brought lots of challenges on input and agrochemicals and urged the state government to support rural farmers.

On her part, Dr Rose Dandali, said Bauchi is faced with food and nutrition insufficiency as the majority of people don’t even talk about the requirement of food in a year when it comes to quantity and quality.

“The problem is compounded by lack of extension agents with many involved in agricultural activities don’t know how to provide a balanced diet for their families. Even the resources meant for farmers are going to the wrong persons,” she said.

She urged that farm service centers should be activated while areas who don’t have, such facilities should be provided.

Another farmer, Aishatu Kaptan Musa, said the pandemic made them unable to clear their farms on time because of the lockdown and that the increase in prices of farming input went high which affected them.

However, the director of veterinary service in Bauchi state, Dr. Istifanus Irimiya, who applauded the effort of the government to the farmers, said he has been receiving complaints from the poultry farmers facing challenges with feed.

According to him, the prices of feed has also gone up, now selling at exorbitant prices beyond the reach of many.

Mustapha Umar Muhammad urged the government to increase awareness and input to farmers on time and at affordable prices.

The Program Manager, Early Warning at WANEP-Nigeria, Osariemen Amas-Edobor, said that the meeting was to provide an avenue for farmers to identify and discuss the impact of COVID-19 on farming activities; to shed light on what government can do to alleviate challenges farmers are facing, and how farmers themselves can be involved in said plans; and to create a platform for information exchange between farmers, the State Government and relevant agencies on their roles in sustaining food security and mitigating the impact of challenges faced by farmers in the state.

The guest speaker, Iliyasu Aliyu Gital, who is the Special Adviser to the Bauchi State Governor on Agriculture, said he was aware that the government did a lot to the farmers during the pandemic.

According to Gital, it was shocking that after receiving the government palliatives, some of the farmers were now denying it.

He insisted that apart from the state government palliatives, some other non-governmental organizations supported the farmers which he personally supervised.

While narrating what the state government faced in trying to help the farmers, Gital said about 150,000 trucks of fertilizer were procured but because of some certain issues, the company could only be supplied 50,000 of trucks which were distributed in the state.

He said even the North East Development Commission (NEDC) has been outlining plans to support the farmers which Bauchi state is part of it, assuring that farmers will smile this year.

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