From: AgroNature Admin
LOCAL farmers in Port Harcourt, Rivers State Capital on Wednesday called on the Federal Government to intervene through its Presidential Fertiliser Initiative to reduce the high cost of fertilisers in the state.
The group who spoke through Godwin Akandu, President Etche Farmers’ Cooperative Union disclosed that such increase in price of the farm input could lead to food shortage in the state.
According to him, low crop yield might affect prices of basic staple foods in the farm harvest period.
His words: “I think the time is right for government at all levels to look inward and proffer solutions to fertiliser scarcity on our farms, though there are fertilisers in the factories, how many peasant farmers can truly afford them?
“This is becoming a threat to our overall output in the forthcoming harvest season because it’s not easy for a peasant farmer to afford a bag of fertiliser for as much as N14, 000. For instance, in cassava farming, an estimated one hectare of cassava farm should consume about eight bags of fertiliser but with the current cost, local farmers may not be able to afford it.
The farmers further advocated for a replication of the past administration’s Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES) which allowed the Federal Government to subsidise the cost of fertiliser by 50 per cent.
“The GES programme should be readopted by this present administration to boost the downstream agriculture. In the past when the Federal Government subsidised the cost of fertilisers, at least farmers were given two bags each at 50 per cent of the cost and this to a large extent improved crop yield,’’ he said.
Reacting to the Federal Government’s Anchor Borrowers Scheme, the farmer said that the scheme did not incorporate the local farmers.
“Those of us here in Rivers, we heard of the Federal Government’s Anchor Borrowers Scheme, the scheme itself is not too cost effective. It is just for the rich who are practicing the mechanised system of agriculture, not for the local farmers.
“In the Anchor Borrowers Scheme, only farmers with 50 Hectares and above are entitled to access support in that scheme, so invariably it does not support the local farmers. How many local farmers’ cooperative groups can afford five hectares talk more of having as much as 50 hectares of farm land?
Beyond the inputs, he called for more investments in farm mechanisation such as tractors. “It is sad that here in Rivers, it is very difficult to see a functional tractor in the State Ministry of Agriculture, some positive steps and policies should be put in place to boost agriculture at the grassroots,” he noted.