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Current yam prices far below cost of production, farmers lament

Yam farmers in Niger State have lamented the continuous fall in the price of yam due to the unending abduction of traders who come from…

Yam farmers in Niger State have lamented the continuous fall in the price of yam due to the unending abduction of traders who come from Lagos and other parts of the country to buy the commodity.

Farmers told our correspondent in Kuta, the Headquarters of Shiroro Local Government and Mutun-Daya, one of the major yam markets in Munya Local Government Area, that the current price was not commensurate with the prices they bought inputs such as fertilizer and chemicals during the planting season.

According to them, insecurity is the major cause of the fall in the price of yams as traders who normally come from Lagos and other parts of the country have stopped due to persistent abduction by bandits. Traders and truck drivers said their means of livelihood was also affected by the fall and low sales.

Farmers keep the commodity in the markets for days before getting buyers while some of them said they have resorted to taking the commodity to their customers in Lagos and other parts of the country.

They called for a more severe onslaught on bandits to free the routes to their yam markets, especially those in Shiroro and Munya local government areas to enable buyers access the market.

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They also decried the rising cost of fuel, as well as the deplorable condition of roads to easily transport their farm produce to the market.

Ibrahim Tanko, one of the yam farmers in Shiroro, told our correspondent that, “Honestly speaking, the price of yam has continued to fall seriously. The quantity of yam that cost N110, 000 before is now N55, 000 and this happens each market day. Buyers have run away because of kidnappings. The major challenge we face now is that we bought inputs at a higher cost, we bought fertilizer at N30, 000 per bag. We don’t know what to do to recover what we spent on the farm because we are losing with the current market price. It is farmers that take yams to meet buyers now instead of buyers coming to meet farmers in the market. Some farmers now take yam to Lagos and other parts of the country because they need money.”

Another trader in Kuta market, Bello Idris, said “traders who used to come from other places to buy farm produce from us are no longer coming because of insecurity in Shiroro. We are seriously down because if we bring our farm produce to the market, instead of making profit we are losing.”

He added that “farmers are facing a lot of challenges in Niger State. We don’t have good roads to easily transport our farm produce to the market. Government should help us construct good roads. They should also help us with subsidized farm inputs. Farm inputs are too expensive in the market now. The price of petrol has also gone up and it is affecting us. Currently in Kuta, petrol goes for N310 per liter. We don’t also have hospitals. Before we take our pregnant women to the hospitals in town, some lose their lives or have miscarriages because of the deplorable state of our roads. We also need potable drinking water.”

Similarly, Sani B. Sarki, the Secretary Yam Farmers Association, Mutun-Daya, Munya Local Government Area, told our correspondent that “If we would be allowed to stay peacefully in our villages, even if the government doesn’t help us, we will fend for ourselves.”

The Chairman Yam Traders, Shiroro LGA, Salisu Mai-Doya, said the price of yam has not been stable since the beginning of this harvest season, affirming that buyers have are no more coming due to unending kidnappings in the area.

“The price of yam has not been stable. Whenever buyers come, the price goes up and if buyers are not on ground, the price goes down. Buyers no longer come like before. Sometimes, while we are in the market, we would be told that bandits are coming. People would abandon their goods and run. So, we lose a lot. Nobody would enter this area now with his wealth in the name of trading,” he said.

Also speaking, Abdulkarim Tshohon-Soja, Chairman Truck Drivers, Mutun-Daya Yam Market, said “When there was peace, we used to load 10 or 20 trucks on a market day but you hardly load two now. It is affecting us because unless traders come to buy, we will not have anything to load. But because of these bandits who kidnap people on a regular basis, they have stopped coming. When they kidnap you, they collect your money and you still suffer before you regain freedom. That is why most traders have diverted to other places where there is relative peace.

Shiroro, Paikoro and Munya are among the major yam producing local government areas in the state.