Farmers in the South-South have lamented the high cost of fertiliser and expressed concern that the situation is threatening food security. The farmers, who expressed their worries in separate interviews, said President Muhammadu Buhari’s withdrawal of subsidy had aggravated the situation.
Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN)’s chairman in Delta, Sylvanus Ejezie, said the fertiliser and agrochemicals’ prices that aided farmers in achieving good produce had become too exorbitant.
He explained that subsidies on fertilisers were hijacked by “political farmers” who presented themselves as middlemen between fertiliser companies and the farmers.
“Fifty kilograms of NPK fertiliser currently is going for N17,000; urea is N25,000 while a litre of organic fertiliser is sold for N6,000,” said RIFAN’s chair in Delta.
In Calabar, Bassey Etim, programme manager, Cross River Agricultural Development Programme (ADP), said the product was out of reach for most farmers, as the urea fertiliser sold between N16,000 to N18,000 per 50kg bag now costs N26,000.
The ADP programme manager said Cross River had no fertiliser plant but got stock from Rivers.
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD)’s director in Cross River, Iwara Iwara, disclosed that the product was sold from N18,000 upwards per medium bag, depending on the type.
“This price is almost beyond the reach of an average farmer in the state, meaning that we still have a long way to go if we must ensure food security in the near future,” he stated.
Similarly, Emmanuel Odey, a rice farmer in Ogoja, said, “Most farmers here borrow to do the labour in their farms, and before it gets to the time to apply fertiliser, they are already out of cash and with the high cost of fertiliser the situation is worse.”
To tackle the problem, the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in Akwa Ibom called on the regime to restore fertiliser subsidies to reduce farmers’ burden as the product price was beyond their reach.
“Government should reintroduce subsidy as it was in those good years of 2012, 2013 and 2014 to help farmers,” he said.
However, Johnny Udo, managing director of Greenwell Technologies Fertiliser Blending Operations in Uyo, attributed fertiliser’s high price to the high cost of raw materials.
A distributor of fertiliser and agrochemicals in Port Harcourt, Godwin Akandu, said there was no government intervention in fertiliser procurement for farmers in the state.
“I think that the exchange rate of the naira to the dollar is a determinant factor on production cost and market pricing of fertilisers,” he added.
Indorama is a major fertiliser production company in Rivers with a production capacity of 23,000 tonnes of ammonia and 4,000 tonnes of granular urea per day.
Notore is another fertiliser blending company in the state with a production capacity of over 2,000 metric tonnes of NPK per day.
Edison Mba, a farmer and chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (ALFAN), Eleme branch, said farmers in the state had continued to suffer the high cost of fertiliser.
Also, Abdullahi Muhammed, AFAN chairman in Edo North senatorial district, said the Edo government had not been subsidising fertiliser for farmers.
“Government has not made fertiliser available to farmers, let alone subsidising it. The fertiliser farmers are buying in the market is sold by private vendors,” Mr Muhamned said.
Farmers in Bayelsa have also bemoaned the rising fertiliser prices, noting its negative impact on food security.
A cassava farmer, Esther Etido, stressed that the government should do more than urge Nigerians to return to the farm.
“Many people heeded the call to go into farming to boost food production only to be abandoned. Soon after planting, I was told that a bag of NPK fertiliser was being sold at N30,000,” she said.
Epegu Caesar, another farmer, said the rising fertiliser’s price would spell doom for plantain and banana farmers who used to adopt shifting cultivation and leave lands fallow for several years.
Theresa Ebiowei, a garri seller, attributed the current high cost of the staple food to the high cost of fertiliser.