Benue sub­sidised fertilizer can’t be found, farm­ers cry out

Daily Trust - - GOLDEN HARVEST - From Hope Abah, Makurdi

Farm­ers in Benue State are cur­rently groan­ing over the high cost of fertilizer in mar­ket, say­ing the gov­ern­ment sub­sidised ones are nowhere to be found.

The state gov­ern­ment flagged off the sales of fertilizer at a sub­sidised rate of N4,000 for farm­ers in the state in May this year.

Gov­er­nor Sa­muel Or­tom, while speak­ing at the launch­ing of the 2016 crop­ping sea­son and flagoff of fer­tiliser sale and dis­tri­bu­tion at Tse-Ukeg­ber in Guma LGA of the state, had said the gov­ern­ment ap­proved a to­tal of 5,100 met­ric tons of fer­tiliser which is equiv­a­lent to 170 trucks of as­sorted brands.

Or­tom also said 10,000 litres of liq­uid fertilizer would be sup­plied di­rectly to farm­ers by se­lected gen­uine and com­pe­tent fertilizer ven­dors at 38 per­cent sub­sidy. He, there­fore, urged farm­ers in the state to visit stores near­est to them in the 23 LGAs‘ di­vi­sional agri­cul­ture of­fices to pur­chase a 50kg bag of fertilizer at N4,000 or ob­tain a litre of the prod­uct at N2,000.

Daily Trust, how­ever, re­ports that two months after the flag-off, the farm­ers have com­plained about non­avail­abil­ity of the in­put in their re­spec­tive lo­cal­i­ties.

A yam farmer in Logo LGA, Tor Aca, said he was yet to get fertilizer at gov­ern­ment’s prices in his area. “We have not heard or seen any­thing of such. So far, we have sourced our fertilizer from the open mar­ket at N10, 000 per 50kg bag,” he said.

Another farmer in the area, Se­sugh Kivie, said he heard that the prod­uct was brought to the coun­cil head­quar­ters at Ugba and sold at N4,000 but that it was not enough for ma­jor­ity of the peo­ple to pur­chase.

In Otukpo, Sun­day Audu and Enokela Adah, who farm yam, maize and rice re­spec­tively, said they pur­chased dif­fer­ent types of fertilizer at be­tween N7,500 and N6,500 from the open mar­ket as the gov­ern­ment sub­sidised fertilizer which ini­tially sold for N4, 500 in the area was hi­jacked by some politi­cians who in turn sold it to farm­ers at N6, 500.

“No­body is get­ting it here at the ac­tual gov­ern­ment sub­sidised rate,” Audu said.

Mean­while, the state chair­man of All Farm­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­ria (AFAN), Aon­dona Hembe Kula, said the state gov­ern­ment sub­sidised fer­tiliser brought to the lo­cal gov­ern­ment ar­eas were grossly in­suf­fi­cient to meet the farm­ers’ needs.

Kula, how­ever, ex­pressed con­fi­dence that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s agro sup­port which would com­mence soon in the state, would bridge the gap and that the farm­ers would then get more than enough.

When con­tacted, the Pub­lic Re­la­tions Of­fi­cer of the state’s Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Mr. Ahant­gba Ay­ati, said the non-avail­abil­ity of the fertilizer was caused by the sup­pli­ers who jet­ti­soned their ear­lier agree­ment with the gov­ern­ment.

Ay­ati ex­plained that the sup­pli­ers wanted gov­ern­ment to re­view the con­trac­tual agree­ment en­tered with them on the ground that the dol­lar had sky­rock­eted and they would not be able to sup­ply the prod­ucts on the ini­tial terms.

“The gov­ern­ment, how­ever, con­sid­ered that be­fore it re­viewed the con­tract, the plant­ing sea­son would have been over,” Ay­ati said.

He added that those con­trac­tors who later agreed to bring fer­tiliser to the state on gov­ern­ment terms were yet to sup­ply enough due to the long Sal­lah hol­i­days but ex­pressed op­ti­mism that the prod­uct would soon flood the state in the com­ing week.

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