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Bumper harvest crashes potato price

65kg drops from N180,000 to N45,000 in Plateau   The harvest of Irish potato has begun in some of the producing states and its price…

  • 65kg drops from N180,000 to N45,000 in Plateau


The harvest of Irish potato has begun in some of the producing states and its price has dropped as more of the product hits the market.

One of the producing states is Plateau, which also leads in the production in Nigeria, with many farmers engaged in its cultivation alongside other crops. People from all parts of the country get much of their supplies from the state.

For many years, sellers/dealers of Irish potato have made considerable earnings in the Irish potato value chain. Several LGAs in Plateau are avid farmers of the crop because of the fertility of the land and climate to support the super germination of the crop.

Among the LGAs in the state producing good potato are Bokkos, Mangu, Jos South, Jos North, Bassa and Jos East. Over the years there was massive production of Irish potato from these areas for the country at large and even beyond.

However, in the last few months, the price of potato skyrocketed, thereby making many people to refrain from buying it. Factors responsible for the price hike include insecurity in parts of the state and the farmer-herder crisis which has culminated into attacks on communities and counter-attacks. This has led to a considerable number of farmers being unable to go to their farms, while many others are still in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps.

In effect, the potato price skyrocketed, and just barely one month ago, a 65kg of potato which was bought at between N30,000 and N35,000 about a year ago rose to N180,000. The price increment was consistent for several months until last month when it dropped to N45,000 per bag. At first it started to drop to N150,000 to N120,000 to N100,000 to N80,000 until the downward trend continued and got to the current N45,000.

Speaking on the current price, a dealer, Faruq Rabilu, said the drastic drop was due to bumper harvest, and that many farmers were now flooding the market with the produce from all the producing LGAs.

He advised that intended buyers should quickly do so as that in the next two months upwards the potato would become scarce again, with the price likely to go up.

Rabiu explained that another reason why the crop was earlier scarce and expensive was not only because of the inflation and the economic hardship in the land, but that because some persons also hoarded it and were banking on the price hike to sell them at exorbitant prices.

He said some of those who hoarded the potato could have been taken by surprise by the sudden drop in the price and could be making considerable losses at the moment, thereby calling on hoarders not to engage in that act as it was counterproductive.

On his part, a community mobiliser and Irish farmer in Mangu, Shohotden Mathias Ibrahim, said the price of Irish potato varied per bag; depending on quality. He said now it was sold per bag from N50,000 to N55,000.

He said the harvest would have been bumper last year because of the good nature of the rain, explaining that the rain was not too much, hence that leaching was not quite experienced, but that the major challenge was the high cost of fertilisers.

Mathias said if the government was proactive to subsidise fertilisers, there would be more bumper harvests in the coming phase, and that there would be availability of potato at much more affordable prices for consumers.

He said he hoped that fuel price would not go up again so that it did not trigger the hike of food prices, and potato by extension, thereby affecting the projection of the crop’s availability and affordability next year.

Another farmer, Verity Michael Charok, who was in an IDP camp in Mangu but has returned to her farm upon the commencement of the rains to key into the planting season, said the price of potato had dropped to even less than what Rabilu and Mathias quoted.

Mrs Charok, who said she was only able to cultivate four bags and would be harvesting within the month, called on the government to come to their aid with fertilisers and other farm implements, as well as general empowerment and support, noting that the violent crises which rocked Mangu and other parts of the state tremendously affected them.

Meanwhile, our correspondent observed that there was more patronage in the markets now that price has dropped.

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