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Irish potato: Bountiful yields ginger Plateau dry season farmers

Plateau State Irish potato farmers have been celebrating bountiful yields from their dry-season cultivation since the commencement of harvest over a week ago. Since the…

Plateau State Irish potato farmers have been celebrating bountiful yields from their dry-season cultivation since the commencement of harvest over a week ago.

Since the harvesting began, the farmers could not hide their joy as they described the yield as encouraging, unlike last year’s in which they suffered heavy losses following attack on the crop by the blight disease.

Early last year, as the farmers battled the blight disease attack, they appealed to the authorities, NGOs, concerned stakeholders in agriculture and individuals to come to their aid otherwise they might not be able to grow the crop this year.

That was because apart from the losses in terms of using the crop for food and to generate income, affording the seedlings for the next/subsequent planting season might not be possible.

But with the impressive germination of the crop this dry season and the attendant good yield, the farmers are elated, and described the outcome as both consoling, and partly compensating for last year’s losses.

Some of the farmers around the Lamingo area of Jos, the state capital (where there is a dam that provides water to irrigate their farms), spoke on dry-season Irish potato farming.

One of the farmers, Alex Amos, said he planted 50 bags of Irish potatoes between November and December last year and that he is currently harvesting.

The 42-year-old farmer said he targets to harvest over 200 bags this season, adding that he bought each bag of the seedling he planted at N25,000, and expected to sell each bag he harvests for N20,000 to N25,000.

He stressed that the farmers are all very happy that no fungal disease attacked the crop this dry season farming, and that is why they have a good yield.

Another farmer, Nyam Michael, said he planted three bags and is expecting between seven and eight bags of harvest.

He said he would have planted more, but due to some constraints, he could not exceed three bags.

He said he bought each bag of seedlings for N30,000, and hopes to sell each of the harvested bags for N20,000 (which is the current price at the market).

Michael said even if he could sell the eight bags he hopes to harvest for N20,000 each, that would give the sum of N160,000, and when he subtracts the N90,000 he spent on seedlings, he would still have N70,000 as profit.

He said, he would be satisfied as he had recorded gain, unlike last year when they incurred losses due to the disease that infected their crops.

On his part, Yohanna Atsi, said he was only able to plant one bag of Irish potatoes in December due to financial limitations, but that from the quality of the seed he planted, he was expecting between three to four bags.

According to him, he purchased a bag of seedling for N27,000 and hopes to sell his harvested bags for N19,000 to N20,000 each.

As this dry season’s Irish potato cultivation came with good yield for the farmers and almost without any complications in terms of disease attacks, the farmers’ expectations and prayers would be that such a feat be recorded during the rainy season farming when crops like Irish potato often appeared to be vulnerable to disease outbreaks.

It could be recalled that Plateau State is known to be the leading state in Irish potato production in the country, and many farmers engage in it alongside other crops, while people from all parts of the country look up to the state for the supply of the starchy vegetable in large and cheaper quantities.

But the major impediment to the cultivation of the crop is disease attacks, which seem to have defied solution.

However, since the 2017-2018 widespread disease attack on Irish potato farms in most parts of Plateau State, the farmers now enjoy a relatively prosperous and better farming experience as they keep getting good yields and profits from the crop.

But the encouraging farming experience in those few years momentarily halted last year as potato farms were attacked by a deadly fungus that left the farms devastated and the farmers counting losses.

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