Bauchi farmers release food crops for cash crop growing

Bauchi, an account of a survey conducted in
Bauchi by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) has indicated that farmers in the
state no longer consider food crops growing profitable this season, hence, they
have to move attention toward cash crops growing.

The review says a lot of farmers have either
move from the growing of food to cash crops or reduced the size of their
farmlands following the loss they incurred occasioned by price stability.

Some of them told newsmen that having spent a
lot of capital on farm input and labor last year, prices of food crops never
went beyond what obtained during the harvest period, thereby making it
difficult to recoup what they spent, talk less of making gains.

They, therefore, said they could not afford
to ‘gamble again’ this farming season, hence they abandoned food crops and
delved into cash crops, which rise in prices was guaranteed.

The farmers listed maize, sorghum, beans, and
rice as the items which prices had remained stable since the beginning of this
year.

They said most of them had now shifted to
cultivating soya beans and sesame seed, which are cash crops that often
appreciate in value.

Malam Hassan Madaki, Chairman of a farmer’s
cooperative society in Kajitu village in the outskirts of Bauchi metropolis,
told newsmen that of the about 100 registered farmers in his organization, over
50 of them had reduced the size of their farmlands, and 40 others shifted from
the cultivation of food to cash crops.

“Last year around this time, prices of 80 kg
bags of maize, sorghum, beans, and rice were N12,000; N13,000; N24,000 and
N36,000.

“As I speak to you today, 80kg bags of maize,
sorghum, beans and rice cost N5,000; N6,000; N8,000 and N24,000.

“This is as against the current prices of
soya beans and sesame seed, which cost N17,000 and N30,000 respectively.

“This development has forced a shift and most
members of my society have resolved to cultivate either sesame seed or soya
beans,” he said.

A farmer in Kajitu village, Mohammed Jibrin,
said like most farmers, he incurred losses this year as he could not recoup
even the cost of fertilizer and other input spent last year, just as Abubakar
Ladan, a maize farmer in the same village, narrated the similar experience.

Also narrating his ordeal to newsmen, Saidu
Samaila and Mohammed Isa, who cultivated beans last year, said their experience
was not only pathetic but even an ‘embarrassment’.

“Can you imagine the price of beans dropping
as the year progresses?

“I have never experienced such a thing; at
most, the price of beans increases slightly or remain stable, but in this case,
it dropped.

“At the beginning, I was feeling disturbed,
but much later, the situation turned to embarrassment as people started mocking
and laughing at us,” said Isa.

For Haruna Samaila, sorghum and maize farmer,
the authorities were to blame for the predicament.

“Nigerians were begged, cajoled and lobbied
to embrace farming to enhance food security, which we obliged.

“Now that prices have fallen to the detriment
of farmers, we have been abandoned to carry the burden of our losses, without
even words of consolation,” he fumed.

Also commenting on the development, Malam
Ja’afaru Ilela, a director with Bauchi State Agricultural Development Authority
(BSADP) in charge of publicity, confirmed to NAN that most farmers across the
state had shifted to the cultivation of soya beans and sesame seed.

He expressed fears that such a situation
might result in low production of food crops this year, thereby inflicting
scarcity and hiking prices.

He suggested that the government should work
on enhancing the value chain of food crops with a view to adding value to such
crops.

Chairman of Bauchi-based Greenland Farmers
and Business Solution Alhaji Isa Tahir, an agro-allied company, said about 50
percent of the over 1,000 farmers he had been dealing with ‘‘has stoped farming
this year.”

Tahir advised the government at every level
to make it a policy to be mopping-up too many food crops any year the good
harvest was recorded in the country.

 

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