Maize farmers and merchants in Katsina State are worried that the current insecurity in some parts of the state may affect maize production this year.
Our correspondent in the state reports that Sabuwa, Faskari, and Dandume are the main maize producing areas in the state, which are currently being threatened by bandits.
Daily Trust on Sunday learnt that because of the incessant attacks, many farmers in the areas had relocated to a safer community, abandoning their farmlands.
Tasi’u Gambo, a maize merchant at Funtua market, expressed fear that persistent banditry in the state might hamper the production of the grains.
“Sabuwa, Faskari, Dandume are the main maize producing areas in the state, recently bedeviled by the activities of bandits, scaring rural farmers to relocate to other towns for safety. This, if not timely contained, will affect the output of the state and the price of the produce might continue to increase,’’ he warned.
A farmer in Danja Local Government Area, Muntari Sani, noted that apart from the current security challenge in the maize producing areas, there is a likelihood of shortage in maize production because farmers in other areas now concentrate on rice cultivation.
“Unless there is a sudden change in some of the farmers’ decisions, the volume of maize and sorghum produced would be low in the next harvest season. Technically, the high cost of the two produce may continue to linger through the harvest period as people are abandoning the crops for rice,’’ he added.
The national president of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Kabir Ibrahim, had warned that farmers could no longer go to their farms, which according to him, portends imminent food shortage.
Ibrahim, who is from Faskari, a maize producing belt of the state, said farmers in the area had virtually abandoned their farms, adding that it would likely affect production this year.
High cost of produce excites farmers
In the meantime, the easing of lockdown across the country has occasioned a skyrocketing market price of farm produce in Katsina State as buyers come from far and near to purchase the goods in bulk.
Before now, farm produce in the local markets in the state were relatively cheap when compared to other markets.
Our correspondent in the state reports that peasant farmers were excited with the price increase as they were selling the produce to fund this wet season farming.
Mika Yusuf, a farmer in Bakori Local Government Area, said they were happy with the sudden change of the market price because they would have enough working capital to farm this farming season.
“Many of us do not operate bank accounts and we have no means of livelihood other than farming, therefore, the only way we generate a working capital for our production is by storing some of our farm produce, which we sell at piecemeal in a period like this and cultivate our farms. This sudden price increase of farm produce is highly advantageous to us, considering how we will have enough capital to work in our farms,’’ Yusuf said.
He added that within a period of only one month, the price of a bag of maize has increased with almost N5,000, same with sorghum.
“Maize was sold at N11,500 in the last fasting period, but now, it is sold at N15,500. Sorghum was N9,300, but now between N13,500 and N14,000. A bag of beans is now sold at N16,500 instead of N12,000 it was sold in the last one month. Rice too, has increased from N34,000 to N38,000 and N40,000, depending on the variety. Price of soybeans and millet were not significantly affected,’’ he added.
Muntari Sani, a farmer from Danja Local Government Area, said the excitement of the farmers would be temporary because if the development persists, it would not be easy for Nigerians.
“If this continues, there is the tendency for maize to reach N20,000 between July and August. And after investing in our farms, how are we going to survive the over N400 cost of a measure of maize or sorghum in a period we are yet to harvest? Besides, not all farmers were able to store the produce till now. And we have a large chunk of non-farmers in urban areas struggling to eke out a living,’’ he said.