Innocent Onwudiwe, a cassava and maize farmer at Nachi in Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State, has accused government of paying lip_service to supporting agriculture.
He said that government had failed to adequately implement agricultural programmes to ensure food sufficiency.
Onwudiwe told the News agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Enugu that non continuity of laudable agric programmes had impacted negatively on farmersâ€™ output.
Onwudiwe lamented that farmers encountered difficulties in accessing agric inputs and implements thereby stalling the realisation of food sufficiency.
â€œAs I am talking with you now, I may go to prison any time because, I have not been able to repay the N500, 000 loans I secured from bank last year to boost my production.
â€œI cultivated five hectares last year, applied for 100 bags of fertiliser but only 10 were approved for me. As I speak, I have not received the fertiliser and the planting year is over,â€ he said.
Onwudiwe said he was supposed to repay the loan by January but was handicapped because he could not apply fertiliser on his farm in time.
â€œEven to hire tractor is another trouble. The only one available at the LG is personally used by the chairman. Any day he releases it to you; you pay N80, 000 and you fuel the machine.
â€œBecause of all these problems I could not make adequate use of the loan,â€ he explained.
Alfred Eneh, Enugu State Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), while reacting to Onwudiweâ€™s complaints said the association was making arrangements to procure tractors from their national body.
According to him, AFAN members will pay 25 per cent of the total sum, while the remaining will be completed within five years.He said the tractors were being expected in April and cost between N4.5m and N4.8m.
On agric loans, Eneh noted that no fewer than 200 farmers would benefit from a foreign loan with a minimum of 12 farmers benefiting from each of the 17 council areas.
He corroborated Onwudiweâ€™s claim that late provision of inputs as well as unavailability of tractors were some of the problems encountered by farmers in the state last year.
Dr Eric Oluedo, Commissioner for Agriculture said with problems faced in the distribution of fertiliser in 2009, the procurement and distribution of the product was assigned to the state fertiliser company.
He noted that some farmers who could not afford the price of fertiliser that rose from N2, 700 to N4, 500 were refunded their money while those who did not collect their money at the end of January should go to the company.
Oluedo said the state had about 10,000 metric tons of organic fertiliser at N2,700 per 50kg bag for sale to farmers.