Farmers in South West region of the country are counting their losses as shortage of rain remained a big challenge to their farming activities and productivity.
Speaking on the challenges of farmers in the region during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday, the Chairman of Oyo State All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Mr. John Olateru lamented that all food crops planted by farmers had dried up due to lack of rainfall.
According to him, most farmers have to start all over due to the lingering rain crisis.
The farmer noted that whereas hybrid seeds that can help in mitigating the losses farmers had suffered, the species are not readily available and if farmers are fortunate to get them, the prices are very high and un-affordable to most farmers.
The AFAN chief said: “Government and Nigerian Seed Council need to be up and doing in the area of seed. “A situation where there are seeds that can provide a minimum of six tons per hectare, compared with the seed that will give you two tons with the same efforts require serious attention.
“Seeds that will not give our farmers profitable yield should not be allowed into the market; the grain farmers need all support they can get to mitigate the challenges they are facing”, Olateru added.
The lead farmer, therefore, appealed to both the federal and state governments to support farmers in the regions with seedlings as well as highly subsidized fertilizers and chemicals to the farmers.
Olateru also solicited financial support for the affected farmers in order to mitigate the losses they suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other related challenges.
He explained: “For livestock farmers, it is unfortunate that all the companies the government-issued import permits to are foreigners that are operating in the livestock industry, not a single Nigerian benefited from this.
“They are competing with Nigerians; with what the government has done, they have been given competition advantages. Nigerian livestock farmers are now at their mercies and this is a bad solution to the challenges at hand,” the chairman stressed.
Commenting on the National Grains Reserve silos in Ibadan, Oyo State which is now being managed by a concessionaire, the lead farmer described the concessioning of the facility as not achieving its objectives.
In addition, he strongly advocated the return to the commodity exchange board regime in the efforts to boost agricultural output in the South West region.
The AFAN leader clarified: “The silos are now being used to mop up grains from the market and manipulate the price of foodstuffs. These silos are better used for its original intention, which is for grain strategic reserve; that is, governments warehouse grains at the time of excess and release same at the time of scarcity. Now there is scarcity, the government has little to nothing in their reserves to mitigate the challenges.
“The exchange board is in a position to know what is being produced by farmers, what the consumers’ needs are and know if we have excess for export, or needed to import”, Olateru added.