The continuous rising cost of inputs, especially fertiliser has pushed many farmers out of irrigation farming in Wushishi and other local governments areas of Niger State.
Farmers in Wushishi LGA also said they had been challenged with the rising incidents of encroachment on irrigation farms by herders, who mostly graze on their farms at night.
The secretary, Mai-Lema Farmers Association, Wushishi Local Government, Bala Mahmud, told Daily Trust on Sunday that, “Currently, our challenges are of two folds. The major one is incessant encroachment on our irrigation farms by herders, especially in the night, otherwise, most of the crops we planted this dry season are growing well.”
He added, “Most of us lack financial strength to buy fertiliser. Right now, there’s no government-subsidised fertiliser in the market. We buy from marketers at a high cost. Urea is N25,000, so also the Golden brand. Some people only apply fertiliser once instead of twice. And if you want irrigation farming to do well, you need to apply fertiliser at least twice. Irrigation farmers cannot do without fertilisers.”
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He said only 5 per cent out of 10 per cent of irrigation farmers in the state engaged in farming this season, partly due to cost of inputs.
Despite the challenges, he, however said, “We have high hopes that the ones we have planted would yield well. We cannot lose because the practice is favourable this season.”
He appealed to the government at all levels to assist them with subsidised farm inputs to enable more interested people return to the practice to address food insecurity and boost the country’s economy.
In Lavun and Gbako local government areas of the state, Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that more people had gone into irrigation farming as a recovery mechanism from the rainy season flood disaster, but unfortunately, they faced challenges of high cost of inputs.
One of the farmers, Idris Mohammed, said most irrigation farmers had picked commercial motorcycle riding, popularly known as okada as alternative to irrigation farming due to cost of the practice.