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Katsina groundnut farmers need improved seedlings

Most farmers in Katsina State now find groundnut less productive to cultivate and therefore concentrate heavily in the farming of cereals such as maize, sorghum,…

Most farmers in Katsina State now find groundnut less productive to cultivate and therefore concentrate heavily in the farming of cereals such as maize, sorghum, rice and leguminous crops like beans and soya beans.
A visit by this reporter to some villages and hamlets around the axis of Yan’kara in Faskari Local Government Area of the state shows that there are numbers of large-scale farmers of groundnut living in the area.
Many of the young girls and boys that locally sell cooked groundnut in Dandume, Funtua, Kankara, Bakori and Danja local government areas source it from the villages of Faskari Local Government; this gave Yan’kara in particular a household name of groundnut producer in the southern part of Katsina State.
Malam Sani Wanzan, a farmer who was met harvesting his groundnut farm in Unguwar Ali Kere, said among the small villages that specialise in groundnut farming are Dan Aji, Unguwar Bako, Maijego, Gidan Alhaji Barau, Gidan Na Dungu, Gidan Alhaji Almajiri, and Gidan Alhaji Tunau; adding that for over 50 years, they have been into groundnut farming.
He estimated that an average of 40 bags of groundnut is produced per hectare of his farm.
Though he lamented the dwindling price of the product, Malam Sani said that if a farmer is patient enough to keep his groundnut up to November and December, its price can rise up to N6,000 per bag for the unshelled.
“Unlike when groundnut farming was a lucrative business, farmers now run away from it due to its poor price. I sold groundnut from last month to date at the rate of N3,000 per bag, but if one can exercise patience and keep it until November or December when it dries, its price soars up to N6,000 depending on the quality,” Malam Sani said.
He further said that he has so far sold groundnut worth over N200,000 before the main harvest and that most of the buyers were individuals who processed it for local consumption. He denied knowledge of any company patronising their product.
Another groundnut farmer from Dan Aji village, Malam Saminu Abdu, expressed dismay on how local companies are not encouraging groundnut production in their area.
He cited example of how West African Cotton Company (WACOT) is encouraging cotton production in their area by giving them quality seedlings, pesticide and fertilizer on loan basis.
“The problem here is that we have no companies that buy groundnut directly from us, unlike cotton that is being encouraged by the West African Cotton Company (WACOT). This year alone, they provided us with quality seedlings, pesticide and fertilizer worth over N2,000,000 on credit, which we successfully paid with our cotton and benefitted a lot. We wish there is a company that can give us the same treatment to augment groundnut production in this area and the state at large,” he said.
This reporter gathered that in order to boost declining cotton farming, WACOT distributed quality seedling, fertilizer and pesticides on loan to farmers within the cluster of about eight villages.
Some of the farmers said that after paying the loan to the company with their cotton, a farmer ended up with N30,000 to N50,000 balance, which was his profit besides maize and sorghum that he used part of the fertilizer to produce.
They described the process as a welcome idea and urged the groundnut related companies or government to copy from WACOT in order to boost groundnut production in Katsina State and northern Nigeria at large.
Investigations revealed that groundnut farmers in Yan’kara select from their harvest the seeds which they replant in subsequent farming seasons, as they have no access to quality and improved groundnut seedlings. This adversely affects their general yield and makes the crop more prone to diseases such as the virus disease called Groundnut Rosette Disease (GRD).
In order to increase the current groundnut production levels, conscious effort must be made by government and the private sector to enhance the supply of seeds of improved groundnut varieties to farmers since seeds are the inputs that can assist them to increase their production.
A groundnut marketer in Dandume market, Alhaji Hafizu Mamman, said unlike during the groundnut boom in the 60s and 70s, groundnut is no longer an export commodity, stressing that even though some are being transported to Chad and Niger Republics, majority of it is consumed locally.
He added that the commodity is not being produced to export quantity as farmers are now less interested in its farming. He however said Niger State and Birnin Gwari in Kaduna State produce large quantities of groundnut that are sold to food companies in the south west and our locals who process it into groundnut oil.
Groundnut provides high quality cooking oil and is an important source of protein in both human and animal diets and also provides much needed foreign exchange through its export.
As population continues to grow, the demand for edible oil in many developing countries like Nigeria will also continue to grow. Groundnut remains very important in satisfying this growing demand because it is adaptable to a wide range of environments, from sandy soils of the Sahel to irrigated areas.

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