Farmers have called on the Federal Government’s Fertiliser Support Initiative to reduce cost of the product to avoid food shortage in Rivers State.
President of Etche Farmers’ Cooperative Union, Godwin Akandu, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday in Port Harcourt that low yield might affect prices of staple foods in the season of harvest.
He said following the Federal Government’s assurance on developing the agriculture sector, the entire states of the federation should be well integrated into proper initiatives to assist in achieving the target of food sufficiency.
His words: “I think the time is right for the government at all levels to look inward and proffer solutions to fertiliser scarcity. 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 is 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 cooperative chief also canvassed a replication of the past administration’s Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES) which allowed government to subsidise the cost of fertiliser by 50 per cent.
“The GES programme should be readopted by this present administration to boost 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 noted.
Reacting to the Federal Government’s Anchor Borrowers Scheme, the farmer claimed the scheme did not incorporate local farmers.
He went on: “The scheme itself is not too cost effective. It is just for the rich who are practising 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, so invariably, it does not support the local farmers. How many local farmers’ cooperative groups can afford five hectares not to talk of having as much as 50 hectares of farmland?”
Akandu urged the three tiers of government to invest in agricultural equipment like tractors to enable every council area own at least two of the earth removers to enhance farming.
Source: The Guardian