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Why Yobe rice farmers face tougher decision this year

It is obvious that the high cost of fertiliser and fuel will halt rice farming and production this year in Yobe State as many farmers…

It is obvious that the high cost of fertiliser and fuel will halt rice farming and production this year in Yobe State as many farmers are waiting for loans, borrowing, or debt from associates or relatives before they move ahead.

Farmers in Nguru, Bade and Damaturu local government areas of the state who are major producers of rice, told our correspondent that the high price of fertiliser and fuel is a major source of their challenge.

Babagana Usman, a rice farmer in Gashua town, Bade Local Government Area, told the Daily Trust on Sunday that he broadcasted 16 bags of fertiliser on his farm but it still needs more fuel to germinate faster.

‘‘Just last two weeks, I bought 16 bags of fertiliser at N50,000 per bag. There is a type of fertiliser we call Nagari, and we are buying it at N37,000. As I am talking to you now, my farm needs more for my rice to grow faster.

‘‘I used to spend N8,000 daily just to buy fuel to pump water to the farm, but yesterday they (filling stations) added N30 to each litre of fuel, meaning that I have to source the additional N30 per litre.

‘‘No doubt, the new prices will affect my productivity because the only option I have now is to borrow money from my relatives, friends or banks, otherwise I have to close up,’’ he said.

Umaru Mustapha, a rice farmer in Nguru Local Government Area, told Daily Trust on Sunday that he knew the prices of fertiliser and fuel would affect his yield at the end of the season, but he was helpless.

‘‘I even told myself that this farm needed the required quantity per acre to get the result I wanted. I bought NPK 20:10:10 fertiliser at N48,000, so I had to manage what I could afford.

‘‘As a rice farmer, I know that when I buy fertiliser, my problem is not over as I have to buy fuel to pump water because rice farms always need water to grow.

‘‘This issue of fuel has halted my motivation. As I am talking to you now, I have spent over N56,000 to buy fuel alone. I didn’t speak about chemicals or other insecticides that are necessary.

‘‘The issue of buying fertiliser and fuel at high prices has depleted my pocket, leaving me with two things: either to borrow money or reduce the size of the farm,’’ he said.

Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that an increase in fertiliser cost will affect farmers’ output, profitability and the country’s food sustainability.

Expressing his concern, Muhammad Abdullahi, a rice farmer, said he bought four bags of fertiliser at N25,000 some years ago, but he now bought it at N50,000, which he said would affect everything along the value chain.

‘‘My profit has reduced because fertiliser and fuel are very expensive. I was afraid that rice yield would be poor because this farm needs six to eight 50kg bags of fertiliser.

‘‘I could only buy four bags of fertiliser this year. To make up for the low quantity, I adopted the broadcast method of fertiliser application, which involves spreading the substance uniformly across the field.

‘‘In addition to buying fuel, another challenge is paying for labour. These have been on my mind, and we have been battling the issues. I don’t know who I am going to share my problem with,’’ he said.

Daily Trust on Sunday reported that in July 2023, the Yobe State Government reduced the price of fertiliser to N13,000, which gave many farmers some hope, but this year, some of them have expressed uncertainty.

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