Farmers throughout the country are having to make some extremely difficult choices to deal with production costs which have been on the rise for the past four years.
Since the COVID-19 epidemic, the country’s inflation rate has increased, hurting all production-related factors and making it difficult for farmers to continue their operations.
Many farmers have been forced out of business due to the high cost of fertilizers, herbicides, seeds, hiring tractors, and paying farm labour, and many small and medium-scale crop producers have had to reduce the size of their fields to something they can manage in order to survive in the current climate.
Our correspondents across the country report that smallholder farmers in rural communities are feeling the brunt of the harsh economic realities affecting their source of livelihood.
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In Niger State, our reporter said the high cost of inputs —particularly chemicals and seeds—is impeding farming operations, particularly in the rural areas.
One of the farmers in Lavun LGA, Baba Mohammed said, “We are faced with challenges of high cost of inputs. Herbicides cost N5,000 per litre. Also, high cost of hiring tractors is challenging. As it stands now, it costs N70,000 per hectare to use a tractor. So, if you are to cultivate four hectares of land, you can see how much you will spend.
The vice-chairman, Niger State All Farmers Association, Engr. Abdulrahman Yusuf, said the cost of inputs was becoming too high for farmers in the state and called for government intervention.
On the issue of the high cost of hiring tractors, Engr Yusuf said there are no tractors in Niger State for farmers to hire, adding that, “the tractors were brought from Kaduna, especially Zaria and Kwara State, and they don’t come until they are done with their own farms. So, before they even come, it’s always late.
In Plateau State, farmers who spoke with our correspondent said they were reducing the size of their farms because of the high cost of farm inputs in the state.
According to the farmers, it is no longer possible for them to cultivate the size of farms they used to because they don’t have the resources to buy all the inputs needed for the farms.
The farmers said it was better to cut your coat according to your cloth as getting money now was not easy, adding that the cost of fertiliser, pesticides, and hiring of tractors among others, was very high which will affect farm production.
Dauda Sunday, a farmer in the Dorowan Babuje community of Barkin Ladi LGA of the state also said due to the high cost of farm inputs, he had reduced the size of his farm.
“Honestly, I have to reduce the size of my farm because of limited resources. Before the hike in the prices of farm inputs, I used to cultivate two hectares but I have cut down to one hectare now due to limited resources.
“Before now, a litre of pesticides was N10,000. But it increased to N14,000. But a litre of pesticides is now N17,000. A bag of NPK fertilizer has also increased to N24,000 per bag. There is also that of N17,000 per bag, depending on which type the farmer wants to use. So, with this development, you just plan for a farm that you would be able to fund.”
Muhammad Isa, a farmer in Yelwan Shendam LGA, said the high price of farm inputs would not allow farmers in their areas to cultivate crops as much as they would want, adding that many have to reduce the size of farms they cultivate.
On hiring a tractor per day for ploughing and harrowing, Isa said, “In our community, we pay nothing less than N120,000 per day. If you are not buoyant, you can bargain with the owner of the tractor on how much a certain part of the farm would be ploughed or harrowed.
“But certainly, it is very costly because the price of gas used by the tractors is also high.”
Our reporter in Kogi State gathered that no sooner had the wet season started than many farmers started raising alarm over what he called “the prohibitive cost of farm inputs, working tools and equipment, including hiring tractors.”
A woman farmer and member of the Small-scale Women Farmers Organisation of Nigeria in Kogi, Hajia Rekiya Danlami, who cultivates grains in Ajaokuta, said even before the increase in fuel pump price, the cost of farm inputs and tractor hiring was getting beyond their reach. She said the present situation has compounded the woes of farmers.
A survey in Lokoja and across the state showed that the cost of inputs like fertilisers, herbicides/pesticides, seeds/seedlings and tractor hiring services increased, far more than in the same period last year.
A source from the Kogi State Agricultural Development Project (ADP) said herbicides/pesticides for clearing weeds cost between N3,500 and N4,500 a litre, depending on the grade; and fertilizer between N10,000 and N30,000, depending on the type, size, grade and source.
The cost of hiring a tractor has jumped to N45,000 per day from government agency.
Daily Trust also gathered that high-quality NPK is sold at between N27,000 and N35,000, per 50kg, in Lokoja, depending on the source, availability and grade.
For instance, a rice farmer in Lokoja, Arowolo Ajibola, said the RoundUp brand he bought last year to kill weeds called kirikiri in his rice farm for N3,000 per litre increased to N5,000 by the end of May.
Equally, a farmer from Dekina in the east district of the state, Achimugwu Adofu, said he may not employ the service of a tractor for his maize farm at Anyigba this cropping season because of the increase in the cost of hiring the service.
“Last year, I paid a subsidised rate of N50,000 per day, from a private tractor hiring service firm, when I could not get one from the government agency that was charging N30,000 to 35,000.
“This year, the private firm has increased from N50,000 to N70,000 and the government agency is charging from N45,000 and above per day this season, depending on the distance.
“The new fuel price regime has compounded our situation, as in some cases, farmers are being made to pay for the cost of fuel,” Adofu said.
By Vincent A. Yusuf (Abuja), Abubakar Akote (Minna), Ado Abubakar Musa (Jos) & Tijani Labaran (Lokoja)