By Abdulkareem Haruna
Farmers in Borno state are expressing fear for yet another year of poor harvest and food shortage as the state government continues to delay the public sales of fertilizers at controlled prices.
The farmers said the inability of the state government to launch the sales of the fertilisers and other allied farm inputs in June and July would again negatively impact on their harvest in the 2022 cropping season.
Fali Adam, a small scale commercial farmer in Borno state, lamented that he risks another year of poor yields and harvests because he could not access affordable fertilizers like it was the case in the two previous years.
“I don’t know what is going on in Borno state concerning the usual sales of fertilizers to farmers at subsidized rates,” he lamented.
The farmers said they had never received fertilizer support from the government of Borno state since Governor Zulum came on board in 2019. This was however not totally correct as the governor, according to media reports had in July 2020, at a ceremony in Kwaya Kusar town in Southern Borno, flagged off the distribution of 300 metric tonnes of fertilizers to rural farmers for the commencement of agricultural activities on that year’s farming season.
Zulum who was represented by his Deputy, Alhaji Usman Kadafur at the flag-off ceremony held in Kwaya Kursa town of Kwaya Kursa LGA of the state on Wednesday, July 15, 2020 said that to ensure a hitch free distribution exercise, a monitoring distribution panel had been
“Since 2019 to date accessing fertilizer that is usually sold to farmers by the government at subsidized rates has become a nightmare. It’s like the government no longer lends priority attention to the agricultural sector, especially at the grassroots.”
Borno state government has this year (2022) budgeted nearly N2 billion for the agricultural sector. The ministry of agriculture and natural resources said it will be spending the sum of N846,500,000 as its recurrent expenditure, while the lump sum of N1,149,300,000 as its total budget for 2022.
But Abdullahi Isa, a retired civil servant, now a farmer, lamented that the agricultural policies in Borno state are more outstanding on papers, while in the real sense, the sector has been neglected.”
Amos Ali, another farmer from the southern part of Borno state wondered why the government is not taking advantage of the rain-fed agriculture in the southern zone of the state to provide fertilizer to the farmers so that the state can make up for the insecurity-induced lack of cropping in parts of central and northern Borno.
“Why is it that since January of this year the Borno State Government flagged off the distribution of Agricultural inputs, such as irrigation machines to 500 dry season farmers in Monguno local government area in Northern Borno senatorial district, but nothing of such took place in southern where more of rainfed farming take place.
“In the southern part of Borno we have a large number of farmers who engage in agriculture because of the relatively peaceful atmosphere and favourable climatic conditions for cropping.”
One of the major challenges faced by the Borno state government when it comes to managing IDPs is food. The government and the humanitarian organisations spend so much money on importing food to meet the local needs of the IDPs. Recently, the state governor said it is no longer realistic to continue keeping IDPs in camps hence the urgent need for closure of all camps.
Mohammed Kolo, a farmer from Damboa local government area said he finds it difficult to till his farmlands due to lack of finances to hire tractors.
“It is so unfortunate that many farmers hiring of tractors remained inaccessible to farmers in Southern Borno, due to refusal of government to deploy tractors to the area during cultivation period.
“This is even as Borno State Government under the leadership of former governor, Senator Kashim Shettima claimed procurement of thousands of tractors, but were nowhere to be found.” He lamented.
Our Correspondent observed that due to the situation, a bag of NPK or Urea 50kg which are also scarce, is sold at N20,000 to N24,000 at the open market depending on the location, compared to last year where the products were sold at less than N10,000 per bag, making it very difficult for the reach of a common man.
The state newly sworn-in commissioner of Agriculture, Bunu Mustapha, has been contacted by The Humanitarian Times for comments and he promised to get revert back as soon as possible.