Maize farm­ing suf­fers set back in Ji­gawa

Sunday Trust - - AGRIC BUSINESS - From Dutse Aliyu M. Ha­m­agam,

Ir­ri­ga­tion farm­ing suf­fers a set­back this farm­ing sea­son in Ji­gawa State fol­low­ing short­age of fuel as farm­ers who en­gaged in dry sea­son farm­ing us­ing pump­ing ma­chines for ir­ri­ga­tion cut down the sizes of their farms.

Yield in most of the crops is ex­pected to drop as high cost of fuel has forced most farm­ers to re­duce the sizes of their farms to lev­els that their fi­nan­cial ca­pa­bil­i­ties can af­ford them to take care of.

Dry sea­son farm­ers, who are mostly ru­ral dwellers, hardly go to the cities where per­haps they can buy fuel at con­trolled prices.

The farm­ers rely for their sup­ply from the black mar­ket, where a litre of petrol goes for be­tween N250 and N300 de­pend­ing on lo­ca­tion. Those in hard-to-reach ar­eas buy at ex­or­bi­tant prices be­cause trans­porta­tion to such ar­eas adds in­creases the cost of the prod­uct.

Checks at some farms in Miga and Birnin Kudu lo­cal gov­ern­ment ar­eas of the state in­di­cate that the hike in the petroleum prod­uct did not only make some farm­ers to re­duce the size of their farms, but that also, some farm­ers were forced out of dry sea­son farm­ing com­pletely.

Many of them have gone into com­mer­cial mo­tor­cy­cling to fend for their fam­i­lies. But for the fact that they are not into full time com­mer­cial mo­tor­cy­cle busi­ness, they gen­er­ate lit­tle in­come for solv­ing their im­me­di­ate needs and save the greater part to in­ject back into their farms.

Be­cause of the high cost of main­tain­ing an ir­ri­ga­tion farm, even prior to the petroleum short­age, an in­di­vid­ual farmer does not go for a big farm be­cause the big­ger the farm the much needed for main­tain­ing it.

For the fact that they cul­ti­vate va­ri­ety of crops in dif­fer­ent plots of land, the farm­ers go for only two or a max­i­mum of four hectares per crop for ef­fec­tive man­age­ment.

For two hectares, one needs two to three litres of fuel, and in some in­stances even more de­pend­ing on how ef­fec­tive a pump­ing ma­chine is. An old pump­ing ma­chine can con­sume four litres per hectare.

The fre­quency of ir­ri­ga­tion de­pends on a farm’s abil­ity to re­tain mois­ture be­cause water ap­pli­ca­tion is twice to thrice in week, de­pend­ing on the re­ten­tion ca­pa­bil­ity of the soil.

Malam Sani, who hith­erto ir­ri­gated four hectares of maize, can­not now main­tain one hectare for this year’s dry sea­son farm­ing ow­ing to what he de­scribed as high op­er­a­tional cost.

While speak­ing to Daily Trust on phone, Sani said in the past he spent not more than N12,000 on fuel from plant­ing to har­vest­ing; which was a pe­riod of three months.

He said he had to aban­don ir­ri­ga­tion farm­ing af­ter cal­cu­lat­ing what he would spend on fuel alone.

He added that he had two farms of the same size; one for rice and the other for maize, and that he had to aban­don that of maize so that he would con­cen­trate on that of rice.

He fur­ther ex­plained that even the rice farm, if care was not taken, some is­sues would come up which could stop him from cul­ti­vat­ing.

He ex­plained that if it hap­pened that the way he aban­doned his maize farm some of his neigh­bours in the rice farm also de­cided to aban­don theirs, then he would not be able to cul­ti­vate the rice farm.

On why he can­not farm it, he said when you ir­ri­gated in the midst of many, your land con­sumed lit­tle water and stores mois­ture for a longer pe­riod be­cause the day that you did not ir­ri­gate your neigh­bour would and the mois­ture would go all round.

Ab­dul­hadi Isa of Maigan­jara vil­lage in Miga Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area told this reporter that in the past, he used to farm two hectares of maize dur­ing ir­ri­ga­tion farm­ing sea­son, but that now he was forced to re­duce to one and half be­cause of high cost of fuel.

He said though he did not cal­cu­late how much he spent be­fore har­vest, he knew that this time around it was not go­ing to be busi­ness as usual, hence the de­ci­sion to cut the size of his farm.

Isa fur­ther said he ir­ri­gated his farm twice a week and that he bought two to three lit­ters of fuel de­pend­ing on the need for water, ad­ding that the cost of fu­elling his pump­ing ma­chine had de­flated his lit­tle sav­ings.

He noted he would not go into dry sea­son farm­ing next ir­ri­ga­tion sea­son even if the price of fuel sta­bilised un­less there was good price for their com­mod­ity this year as that was the only way that they would be able to re­coup their in­vest­ment.

Isa said he har­vested about 15 bags last year, but that by re­duc­ing his farm size he now ex­pects six to seven bags.

He, there­fore, ap­pealed to the au­thor­i­ties con­cerned to come to their aid and pro­vide them with fuel.

“Last year about 300 peo­ple from our vil­lage, Maigan­jara, were into maize ir­ri­ga­tion farm­ing, but this year, be­cause of high cost of fuel, about 70 per cent can­not cul­ti­vate,” he said.

Maize ir­ri­ga­tion farm in Miga LGA

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