Farmers call for subsidised farm inputs, soft loans

Some farmers in the South South zone of the country have urged the Federal and State governments to assist them with agricultural inputs and soft loans for increased productivity.

The farmers made the call in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Port Harcourt, Calabar, and Benin.

The farmers argued that the country had the potentials to make agriculture the main stay of the nation’s economy.

They also said that this is achievable if farmers are given necessary assistance and encouragement.

Chief Jude Amadi, a 45-year-old farmer from Okomoko, Etche Council of Rivers and father of five cultivates yams, plantain, cocoa yam and vegetables.

“As a famer, I plant in the dry and wet season. But, the best time to go to farm is the wet season because the crops use the rain to grow.

“I need assistance from the state government in subsidized fertiliser and agro-inputs. It has not been easy, but we believe that any assistance from government will assist us increase our yield,” he said.

Amadi also said the government should send out agricultural extension officers to guide local farmers on how to plant, especially in the wet season.

“Farmers need encouragement from government to increase their yield. We have challenges but they can be overcome with assistance from government,” he said.

In Cross River, farmers have called on the state Government to provide them with agro inputs early in this year’s farming season.

A cross section of the farmers bared their minds in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Calabar.

Mr Austine Oqua, state Chairman, Cassava Farmers Association of Nigeria, blamed the delay in the availability of agro inputs on the late passage of 2016 federal budget.

“We have not received any agro inputs from government, probably because of the delay in the 2016 Budget.

“But now that the budget has been accented to, may be things will begin to work out soon, ” he said.

Oqua said that the association has acquired 100 of the 300 hectares of farmland in Akpabuyo Local Government Area needed for the commencement of Fadama III programme in the state.

Another farmer, Mr Eteng Ubi, urged the state government to provide agro inputs to farmers in good time to ensure bumper harvest in 2016 farming season.

“We are told that we will get fertiliser at subsidised rate as the government has improved on former e-wallet method of fertiliser but up till now, we have not really seen anything.

“Only some input dealers and some Non-Governmental Organisation sell fertiliser and other inputs to farmers, ” he said.

However, at the launching of the 2016 farming season, Prof. Anthony Eneji, State’s Commissioner for Agriculture said that the government was doing everything possible to ensure that people do not go to bed hungry.

He said that the Ministry of Agriculture would continue to make available all farm inputs and credit facilities to farmers across the three Senatorial zones of the State during this year’s farming season.

The commissioner told NAN that the present administration in the state was determined to make Agriculture the mainstay of its economy.

“Because of the fall in the federation allocation to the state, we are poised to making agriculture as alternative source of our revenue earning, ” he said.

Dr Martina Ubi, the Programme Manager, Cross River Agricultural Development Programme (CRADP), said that farmers were important for agriculture to thrive in the country.

Ubi said that with the successful launch of the 2016 farming season in the state, all agro-inputs would be made available to all farmers to enable them plant their crops.

NAN investigation shows that a bag of NPK fertiliser in Cross River sells for between N4000 and N5000 depending on the weight.

The state government through the ministry of Agriculture was still waiting for inputs from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture before commencing distribution to farmers.

All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Edo chapter, has called on the federal and state governments to subsidise farm inputs for the farmers.

Mr Emmanuel Odigie, the state chairman of AFAN, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Benin

Odigie said the cash crunch which the country was experiencing had made it impossible for farmers to purchase farm inputs for the planting season.

“If the government want to guarantee food security, they must help to subsidise farm inputs for farmers across the country,” he said.

Odigie commended the introduction of the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) Scheme by President Goodluck Jonathan`s administration, adding that the scheme ensured even distribution of fertiliser to farmers in the country.

The chairman stated that farmers were currently enjoying agriculture loan from the state government.

According to him, in 2011, the state released N1billion as a revolving loan to farmers.

“The state government has been working hard to ensure that farmers have access to credit facilities in the state,” he said.

He urged the Federal Government to make funds available to farmers in the country to use agriculture to drive the economy.

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