The Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria (AUFCDN) has since Thursday blocked shipment of cattle and farm produce to the Southern part of the country over demands for compensation for its members affected by violence in that part of the country.
The decision might have driven up prices of the items in the South but it has also brought prices crashing in Kano as farmers and marketers suffer huge losses, as Daily Trust reports.
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It is an irony that as tomato and onion scarcity prevails in the South, the vegetables are flooding markets in the North, selling at giveaway prices. That is not good news for farmers.
The scarcity in the South is occasioned by the strike by the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria (AUFCDN), which has blocked the shipment of cattle and farm produce to the South while demanding compensation and safety guarantees for their members affected by the #EndSARS protest and the violence at Shasa market in Ibadan.
AUFCDN, an affiliate of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), commenced the action following the expiration of a seven-day ultimatum given to the federal government to attend to their demands.
But with the strike entering its fifth day (on Tuesday), farmers and foodstuff marketers in Kano, especially those who deal with tomatoes have begun to feel the impact with prices further plummeting.
Findings by Daily Trust revealed that many tomato farmers have abandoned their farms due to a shortage of outlets as well as their inability to continue spending their resources in harvesting the produce.
Many farmers now prefer to cut their losses and allow the tomatoes to rot on the farms rather than expend resources to package and transport it to the Southern part of the country. This is because AUFCDN officials have mounted blockades to enforce compliance at strategic places like Lokoja in Kogi State and Jebba in Kwara State.
It was also gathered that the union’s move has created a serious tomato glut as it is harvest season for the produce and instead of the farmers counting gains, they are busy counting losses.
A visit to the Kadawa irrigation site in Garun Malam Local Government of Kano State revealed several tomato farms due for harvest left unattended by the farmers.
According to the state chairman of Tomato Out Growers Association of Nigeria (TOGAN), Alhaji Sani Danladi Yadakwari, the recent move by the union has dealt them a heavy blow.
He added that already there has been a glut in tomato harvested in this year’s dry season in the state, which resulted in a drastic crash in its price in the open market. He said already tomato farmers in the state have called on the state government to intervene and save the situation to save the farmers from incurring heavy losses that might result in the total crippling of tomato farming.
“There is a need for the government and other authorities concerned to wade into the issue and rescue these farmers from total loss,” he pleaded.
At Kwanar Gafan Tomato Market in Garun Malam Local Government Area of the state, it was gathered that the market that initially loads about 35 to 40 trucks of tomatoes to other parts of the country every day has not loaded a single truck in the last five days.
According to a tomato merchant, Malam Ibrahim Ghali Dumaji current tomato price has not been favourable and encouraging as tomatoe that could fill a big basket is sold at N850 while the basket itself is sold at N750 thereby bringing the total cost of a basket of tomato to N1600.
“The union’s recent strike and the current glut has thrown tomato farmers, marketers and other perishable farmers in Kano State into a serious crisis as many farmers abandoned their farms, awaiting a miracle. This is a serious challenge taking into consideration the cost of production and other expenses incurred during the planting and harvesting processes,” he said.
It was, however, gathered that the only solace available to tomato farmers is the Dangote Tomato Processing Company under the Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP) that offers far more than the farmers make in open markets.
At Gun-dutse Onion Market in Dawakin Kudu LGA, the situation is similar to what was obtainable at the tomatoe market as the dejected looks on the merchants’ faces tell the story.
Daily Trust gathered that a big sack of onions that was selling for N35, 000 a few weeks ago and N10, 000 just before the strike now sells for N7, 000.
One of the onion marketers at the market, Malam Muhammed Ibrahim, told Daily Trust that daily, 20 truckloads of onions used to depart the market to various parts of the country but with recent developments, only three truckloads have left the market since Thursday.
He added that business has been so slow and the union’s action has affected the prices of onions in the market.
“As you can see us, we are just here expecting and hoping for things to go back to normal. A bag of onions sold at N10, 000 a few days ago is now N7, 000 and even at that, there are no buyers. Our prayer is that the union and all parties concerned should amicably put an end to this strike for us to be able to survive this harsh economic situation,” he said.
While merchants are still battling to sell off the goods in their possession, farmers are at loss as to what to do with the ones still on the farm as it was gathered that despite the glut in onion in most of the perishable markets in the state, more onion farms are yet to be harvested.
From Clement A. Oloyede, Ibrahim Musa Giginyu & Lubabatu I. Garba, Kano