Agriculture

Mixed reactions over fertilizer cost in North west

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Farmers in Kebbi and Kano states have hailed the level of fertiliser supply in their states, saying that the commodity was sold at the controlled price of N5,500.

However, farmers in Zamfara said that the supply was low and difficult to access.

In Kebbi, 886,000 tones of fertilizer were distributed by the state government to farmers in 225 wards across the 21 local government areas of the state.

The state government Spokesman, Alhaji Sani Dododo, told the Nigeria News Agency in Birnin Kebbi that the fertilizer was sold at subsidized rate of N5,500 per bag.

Dododo said the government and stakeholders have had extensive discussions before agreeing on issues affecting all aspects of agriculture in the state.

“The stakeholders comprise, traditional rulers, politicians, members of farmers associations in the state,” he said.

Also, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Alhaji Muhammad Lawal, told NAN that the state government had been selling fertilizer to farmers based on approved Federal Government price.

“We had procured more than enough fertilizer as even after the sells we still have huge quantity of it stocked in our stores across the 21 local government areas.

” We have been selling it at the cost of N5,500 per bag, but if you go to market you get it at N8,300 per bag.

” We don’t have shortage of fertilizer and we sell it for all our interested farmers irrespective of where and which political party you belong as we consider our farmers as one family members under same household.”

Lawal said the state government had been in touch with security agencies to prevent diversion of the commodity.

“We carried out awareness campaign on the danger of transporting the fertilizer to neighboring states and countries.

“We made our farmers to realise that the fertiliser was supplied to cushion the effect of the hardship they face in accessing inputs for their farming activities.”

A farmer in Birnin Kebbi, Alhaji Ibrahim Guluma, said he has four hectares of rice farm and was able to secure fertiliser from government.

“I initially tried to buy from the open market, but on hearing that it is available even in our wards I quickly went and bought what I required.”

Guluma recalled  that in 2018, despite their readiness to buy the product at the rate of N7,500 in the open market, it was not available.

He said the changes in supply and sales of fertilizer was remarkable.

However, in Zamfara, farmers were not happy over supply and sale of fertilizer, saying it remained scarce and expensive.

The farmers expressed the hope that efforts to revive the Gusau fertilizer blending plant may ease supply pressure next season.

One of the farmers, Shehu Abdullahi, said it was difficult getting fertiliser on time and at affordable rate.

“If government want to support farmers, it must provide fertiliser to farmers in large quantity and at subsidise rate.”

Another farmer, Alhaji Maiharaji Altine-Sallah, said fertiliser was difficult to get in Zamfara.

According to him, high quality grade of fertilizer is being sold at between N9,000 and N8,500 while low quality fertiser goes for N7,000 and N5,000.

Managing Director, Gusau fertiliser blending company, Mr Mustafa Anka, said the company built in 1998 to produce all brand of Nitrogen Phosphorous and Potassium (NPK), has been resuscitated after its closure in 2006 due to lack of funds.

The state governor, Bello Matawalle, released N10 million to revive the company.

Anka said:“We told him that our major problem was funding and he gave us N10 million for test running.

“We are already partnering with Savannah Global Agro Resources Limited who bring raw materials for us at the cost of over N30 million.

“We have embarked on this production as test running, we are now producing 20 tonnes per hour.

“This company has the capacity to produce 35 tonnes per hour and if the company resumes full operations, in ten hours we will be able to have ten trucks of fertilizer.

“The company need N2 billion to operate to full capacity; you know the issue of fertilizer blending is capital intensive.

“We have already approached Bank of Agriculture, they directed us to go to Sterling Bank to obtain loan and the bank said they are ready to give us the loan of N2 billion on single digit interest.

“Therefore, with the permission of the state governor if everything works fine, we will resume full production very soon.

“Our basic challenge is the funding; you can see the machines are okay, in terms of workforce if we have enough funding we can get many workers since we will be paying them directly.’’

In Kano, the Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in Tsanyawa Local Government Area, Alhaji Abubakar Tsanyawa commended President Muhammad Buhari for providing fertiliser to farmers at subsidised rate.

According to him, the presidential intervention has made fertilizer readily available everywhere and throughout the year at affordable prices.

According to him, “before the coming of this subsidised fertiliser by the President, we used to by the product at the rate of N9000, which at the end of the harvest, the farmers cannot even recoup what they have spent, thus forcing many to run away from farming.

“We commend the president for such assistance, because the subsidised fertilizer is now N5,500; he is motivating us to return to farm and continue with our farming activities.

“We have not experienced cases of people selling the subsidised fertiliser at a higher rate, because it’s price is already written on all the bags. Therefore, farmers can easily shun and even report anyone found guilty of such”.

Tsanyawa, however, said that lack of access to markets is a major challenge, as farmers are left with huge stocks with no buyers.

“The Federal Government should buy off excess grains and other products from the farms, so as to encourage farmers produce more,” he said.

However, Head of Agric Department, Kiru Local government Area, Alhaji Sani Ishak said the demand for fertilizer in the area was higher than the quantity being supplied.

According to him, the area has large number of farmers, as such it is necessary for government to increase the supply of fertiliser to the area.

He explained that the subsidised fertiliser had really helped farmers not only in Kano, but all over the country to improve their outputs.

Edited by Maharazu Ahmed

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