Lack of tractors, seeds: Niger rice farmers face difficult options | Dailytrust

Lack of tractors, seeds: Niger rice farmers face difficult options

Rice farmers in Niger State have decried the non-availability of tractors for hire as one of the major challenges they face as the wet season farming begins.

Also affecting the farmers is the rising cost of rice seeds as they begin the wet season planting.

Niger State has been rated by various agricultural development agencies, including FADAMA, as one of the major rice-producing states in Nigeria, but farmers said the cost of farm inputs and farm implements, especially tractors, is hindering their productivity this rainy season.

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A Daily Trust survey revealed that only a few individuals have tractors for hire in the state, forcing the farmers to go as far as Kwara State to source for tractor operators for ploughing.

Checks on the Niger State Agricultural and Mechanisation Development Authority and the State Ministry of Agriculture revealed that the state has no single functional tractor to hire out to farmers.

When asked on the phone if the state government has tractors to hire out to farmers, the General Manager, Agricultural and Mechanisation Development Authority, Suleiman Rijau, said, “We don’t have a single tractor to give out on hire to farmers.”

The chairman, Youth Farmers Association, Niger State, Kabiru Mohammed, said getting a tractor to hire this rainy season posed a serious challenge to rice farmers in the state.

“It takes you two or more weeks looking for a tractor to hire. As I speak with you, I have been looking for a tractor to hire for the past four weeks to plough my farm but I haven’t seen any. And when you see one to hire, it’s hired out at a high cost.

“The cost of hiring a tractor to plough a hectare of land now is N50,000. If it’s ploughing and harrowing, it’s N100,000,” he said.

Another challenge, according to Mohammed, was not lack of access to rice seeds in the market, but farmers were faced with the difficulty of getting quality seeds and high cost.

“Having rice seeds isn’t hard. The difficult thing is getting quality and viable seeds to buy. Sometimes, different varieties of seeds are mixed. So, if a farmer doesn’t know, he would buy and plant them and discover that they are not due for harvesting at the same time.

“So, during the harvest period, some are ready for harvesting while others are not. If you decide to harvest the first, you lose the ones that are not done yet and if you decide to wait, the first gets spoiled.

“So, the best thing is to get seeds that are not mixed, and doing that is hard because marketers, most of the time, won’t tell you. So, farmers need to be very careful,” he said.

 He said the Faro 44 variety, which he uses, cost N850 per kilogramme.

 Also speaking, a rice farmer in Wushishi, Abubakar Isah, said the basic challenge they faced as they began rice farming this season was the high cost of seeds and lack of access to tractors to plough large hectares of farmland.

“The seeds are available in the market but prices have gone up. On the issue of tractors, honestly, it is hard to get and a majority of us cannot afford to hire a tractor this season. It’s a serious challenge because we have to resort to crude tools —which are the normal hoes—and – and use of herbicides. Even those who could afford it would have to wait for as long as four weeks to get one.

“The cost of hiring a tractor to work for you is N100,000. And most of the people hiring out tractors to us here come from Kwara State. And this season, they only came briefly and left.

“So, now, we don’t even where to get a tractor to hire,” he complained.

 Yahaya Salihu Paiko also said he bought Faro 60, a variety of rice seeds, at N2,000 per kilogramme this season, and hired a tractor to plough his three hectares of land at the cost of N100,000.

He lamented that getting a tractor to hire was difficult for farmers.

In Gbako Local Government Area, farmers said they bought seeds per measure at the cost of N1, 300 each. They said they could not afford to hire a tractor.

 

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