Stakeholders across some South West states and Kwara told NAN that a combination of factors including high demand in the face of low supply, the ‘shylock’ activities of middlemen and government neglect have kept the price of fertiliser up.
In Oyo State, the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) attributed the hike in the prices of fertiliser to high demand for the product, stressing that the current supply was below what farmers require.
The Secretary of the association, Mr David Ogundele, told NAN that there was no price regime control on fertiliser and other farm inputs in the state.
According to him, some of the fertilisers used in the country are imported and occasionally arrive late to the country thereby, making farmers to wait for long before arrival.
He said that some of the importers were business men would like to make high profit on the capital they invested.
“The state government’s effort concerning this issue is not felt by the farmers because it is a matter of pay for one and take one free and this is not enough for the farmers, especially large scale farmers.
“The N5,500 as the price given if you are buying through the government but it is between N7,000 and N7,500 if you are buying outside,” he said.
A senior officer in the state Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, who pleaded not to be named, however, said distribution of subsidised fertilisers to genuine farmers was ongoing at designated centres.
He said a bag of fertiliser costs N5, 500, adding that no genuine farmer in the state was being denied access to the product.
The source also said the ministry was not aware of any hike ”and if there is any, government will deal decisively with anyone trying to sabotage government efforts toward revitalisation of the agricultural sector.”
In Ondo State, Mr Akin Olotu, the Special Adviser to Gov. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu on Agriculture and Agri-Business said that the state government was doing its best to make fertiliser available to farmers in the state at subsidised rate.
Olotu said that fertiliser could be accessed by farmers through the Agricultural Input Agency (AISA) and through individuals.
He said that fertiliser was being offered by the government agency at N5, 600 for the 60kg bag.
The governor’s aide noted that any agency selling above the government subsidised price or manipulating the process would be punished severely.
He, however, said such incident had never happened in the state because of proper monitoring and supervision.
Olotu said distribution of fertiliser was being done in collaboration with registered farmers’ associations in the state.
According to him, fertilisers are often distributed directly to farmers across the state through their associations.
He said that members of the state House of Assembly even bought fertilisers for farmers in their respective constituencies in the last distribution exercise.
Olotu, however, said that the state government would encourage farmers in the state to opt for organic fertilisers, adding that it was the new global trend.
“We are now encouraging our farmers to go organic because that is global trend now. People are more aware of their health and effect of inorganic fertilisers on the soil.
“The state government is planning to turn waste such as poultry dung to fertiliser and this will create a value of chain.
“So, we are being holistic in our approach but in the interim, we still make inorganic fertiliser available at a cheaper rate to our farmers before work is perfected on the organic fertiliser,” Olotu said.
In Osun, Mr Moses Oladipupo, the Deputy Chairman of AFAN said fertilisers had remained difficult to access by farmers in the state, adding that the ones being sold in the market were not subsidised or sold at Federal Government rates.
Oladipupo said though the subsidised price for Federal Government supplied fertiliser was N5,000 it had remained unavailable in the state for farmers to buy.
He also said the state government had not made fertiliser available, let alone subsidise it.
The AFAN official said the fertilisers farmers were buying in the market were sold by private vendors at between N8,000 and N10,000, depending on the brand.
He said no fertiliser supply was coming directly from the Federal Government or state government to farmers in the state.
Dr Bukola Aluko, the Coordinating Director, Osun Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security admitted that the state government was not subsidising the price of fertiliser for farmers in the state.
Aluko said government was only partnering with a private companies to ensure the availability of product in the state.
According to him, the state cannot subsidise fertiliser for farmers for now because of its financial situation.
He, however, said government was partnering with the Farmers Input Supplies and Services Company (FISSC), to make agro materials, chemicals and fertiliser available to farmers across the state.
Aluko, who noted that the fertiliser supplied by the company to farmers were sold in the market at regular or below regular prices, said the state government did not subsidise or regulate the market prices.
He added that fertiliser was not scarce in the state as it was being made readily available by FISSC to farmers in the open market.
In Ekiti, the State Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Community Empowerment, Mr Folorunsho Olabode, said fertiliser was being subsidised by government.
He, however, expressed surprise that the price would still be high in the open market.
The commissioner disclosed that the state government had recently taken delivery of 6,000 tonnes of fertiliser.
“Each bag of the fertiliser is currently being sold to farmers at N5, 500,’’ he said.
The commissioner said government was not aware of those selling at irregular prices and promised that the present administration would not watch farmers being exploited.
He enjoined famers to patronise government agro outlets to buy the input at controlled price.
A NAN correspondent, who visited the Fountain Agricultural Marketing Agency owned by the state government, reports that a bag of fertiliser marked “KPK 1010” is being sold for N5,600.
NAN investigation across some open agric outlets in Ado Ekiti, however revealed that this was not so with privately owned outlets where an average bag of fertiliser was being sold for between N6, 000 and N6, 500.
Some of the vendors attributed the high prices to transportation and other logistics costs.
In Kwara, Mr Idris Abubakar Dan-Azumi, the Principal Agricultural Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said the state government had not started subsidising fertiliser.
“As a result of that, a bag of fertiliser is being sold for N6, 000.
“There is no scarcity of fertiliser in the state in terms of availability, except that the government is not subsidising for now,’’ he said.
Dan-Azumi claimed that only 11 out of the 22 fertiliser blending companies in the country were functioning with the factory price at N5, 500 per bag.
“When this Federal Government administration came on board only two factories were working.
“So the Federal Government partnered with a Moroccan company to produce NPK and sell at the rate of N5, 500 to dealers, who in turn sell at N6, 000 to farmers,” he said.
He, however, noted that the new administration in the state had captured money for fertiliser procurement in the 2019 supplementary budget.
Prof. Olubunmi Omotesho of the Department of Agricultural Economics and Farm Management, University of Ilorin, however, decried the situation where small scale farmers had to source for chemical fertilisers from the open markets at very exorbitant prices.
Omotesho said that the small scale farmers were technically efficient but were rarely, if ever, consulted on how to acquire their needs, especially fertilisers.
“Small scale farmers do not always have access to the much needed agricultural inputs such as fertilisers, and when they do, they pay exorbitant prices for them.
“This is because the small scale farmer does not have adequate access to agricultural extension services,” he said.
The expert said more than 60 per cent of rural farming households were not only income poor but multi-dimensionally poor.
He said while government policies might be laudable, they must ensure that small scale farmers have the required access to the much needed agricultural resources such as fertilisers, markets, lands, finances, infrastructures and technologies.
The don explained that this would increase their productivity on a sustainable basis such that they would be less vulnerable.
A cross- section of farmers in Kwara , however, blamed lack of government supervision for the hike in price of fertiliser.
A farmer, Mr Idowu Babatunde, alleged that many government officials divert the product to their own personal warehouses and sell for high profit.
On his part, Mr Damilola Odediji, farmer called on the government to ensure special agents were empowered to monitor movement of fertilisers in the country.
“It is time government acts fast and curb the diversionary tactics being employed by corrupt government representatives,” he said.
The scenario was not different in Ogun with the state chapter of AFAN attributing the rising cost of fertiliser to inadequate production of the product and the activities of middlemen.
The Secretary of AFAN in Ogun, Mr Abiodun Ogunjimi said the rising cost was a reflection of the law of demand and supply.
He noted that increased production of fertiliser would make the product more available and force the price down.
Abiodun noted that though fertiliser was available at a subsidised rate of N5, 500, a farmer could only get a maximum of two bags at such rate because of rationing resulting from inadequate supply.
“There must be sufficient production to enable farmers have access to fertiliser otherwise the situation will jeopeardise the benefit of the subsidy on fertiliser.
“As it is, we farmers are getting our fertiliser mainly from the open market at an average rate of between N7,500 and N8,000 depending on the make.
“This is absolutely too high for farmers but we are helpless.
“The middlemen who buy it in bulk from the government at subsidised rate of N5,500 are making too much gain and making things difficult.
” The government must devise a way where we can get it directly at subsidised rate in bulk to force the price down,” he said.
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