Fertiliser scarcity, price hike worry farmers in N/East

Some farmers in the North-East have expressed concern over the difficulties experienced in accessing fertiliser due to unavailability and hike in price of the commodity.

The farmers, who spoke in Bauchi, Damaturu, Gombe, Maiduguri and Yola, said the situation would result to low yields at harvest.

The decade-long Boko Haram insurgency and other forms of insecurity have adversely affected crop production as many farmers had abandoned their farms in parts of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.

Farmers in areas prone to insecurity now rely on close-by, often overstressed lands to farm in resettled communities, thus, making significant surge in the demand for fertiliser to boost soil fertility for bountiful output.

The farmers’ concerned stem from their inability to access fertilisers such as Urea, and the Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorous (NPK) due to exorbitsnd prices.

The situation was further compounded by the ban imposed on circulation of granular fertiliser in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.

The ban was to prevent Boko Haram insurgents from accessing granular fertiliser to make Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

A NAN check in markets across the region showed that prices of the commodity had shot up by over 100 per cent in the last one year.

A 50 kilogram bag of fertiliser was being sold between N25,000 and N35,000 as against its previous prices of N15,000 during the last cropping season.

Mr Sabo Bappa, a smallholder farmer in Askira-Uba, Borno, attributed the scarcity of fertiliser to drastic drop in the supply of the commodity.

He said the decrease in the supply coupled with the ban on circulation of the commodity resulted to price hike in the region.

The farmer urged government at all levels to adopt practical measures towards enhancing access to fertiliser.

Hajiya Fatima Misau, Treasurer, Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation of Nigeria (SWOFON) in Bauchi State, said prices of fertiliser had shown spiralling increase amid growing demand since the commencement of the rainy season.

She noted that farmers could not reap much without applying fertiliser, especially on impoverished lands across the region.

Similarly, Samuel Luka, a maize grower in Bauchi, said many farmers now rely on cow dung and chicKen droppings to nourish their farms as they could not afford exorbitant fertiliser prices.

“Many farmers are forced to abandon their farmlands which will result to poor harvest,” he said.

To address the problem, state governments in the region embarked on distribution of granular and liquid fertilisers to farmers at subsidised rate.

Gov. Babagana Zulum of Borno, said the state government could not distribute subsidised granular fertiliser to farmers due the banned imposed on the commodity.

He, however, said that his administration accorded pririoty towards enhancing farmer access to liquid fertiliser and other input to encourage productivity.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports also that the Borno Fertiliser Blending plant has been closed due to Boko Haram insurgency in the past 13 years.

In Adamawa; the Commissioner for Agriculture, Umaru Daware said the state government had procured 54,000 litres of organic liquid fertiliser for 2022 wet season activities.

He listed the products to include NPK, Urea brand of fertiliser and Folier rice, adding that it would be sold to farmers across the 226 wards at subsidised price of N4,000 per bottle.

According to him, the product costs N6,000 per bottle at open market.

He warned against diversion of the products, stressing that government would not condone erring officials.

Also, Malam Adamu Muazu, Programme Manager, Adamawa Agricultural Development Programme, said experts had certified liquid fertiliser to be safe and environmental friendly capable of increasing farm yields.

Shehu Jabdo and Usman Michika, both farmers in Adamawa commended the state government for introduction of liquid fertiliser in the state.

They said the initiative would end scarcity, encourage agricultural productivity and deal farmer/herder clashes in the state.

In Bauchi State, the state government has commenced distribution of fertiliser to farmers at subsidised rate.

Gov. Bala Mohammed who inaugurated the exercise, said NPK fertiliser would be sold at N15,000 and Urea N20,000 per 50kg bag.

The gesture, he said would make the commodity available to the farmers in the state.

Moreso, the Gombe State Government had so far distributed 72,000 bags of assorted fertilisers to assist farmers for 2022 wet season activities.

Alhaji Alhassan Fawu, Chairman, Fertiliser Distribution Committee, said the move was to reduce the effect of the high prices of the commodity on farmers and boost food security.

The Chairman who attributed fertiliser scarcity to the Russo-Ukraine war, said the state government had adopted proactive measures towards enhancing farmer access to the commodity.

He said that NPK brand of the commodity would be sold at subsidised rate of N19,000 per bag.

To further improve supply of the commodity, the Yobe government announced that the rehabilitation of its moribund fertiliser blending plant had reached 95 per cent completion stage.

The Commissioner for Commerce and Tourism, Barma Shettima said the plant designed with 18 tonnes production capacity per hour would soon begin operation.

“Yobe State Fertiliser Blending Company Limited, located at about 28km along Damaturu – Gujba road had reached 95 per cent completion.

“The company have the production capacity of 18 tonnes per hour if completed.

“Fertiliser scarcity would be a history among farmers in Yobe,” he said.

For his part; Alhaji Ibrahim Gare, Chairman, All Farmers Association Nigeria (AFAN) in the state, described farmers lack of access to fertiliser as a major bane towards sustainable agricultural development in the country.

While commending Yobe government for the distribution of fertiliser to farmers, Gare called for resuscitation of the fertiliser blending plant in the state. (NAN)