By Emeka Mamah
ENUGU—Rural farmers are groaning in Enugu State, following alleged scarcity of farm inputs like seedlings or fertiliser needed for this year’s farming season.
However, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Mike Eneh, has blamed the Federal Government over the scarcity of fertiliser, not only in the state but in the southern part of the country. He warned of imminent food scarcity next year.
Investigations by the South East Voice showed that even as many residents of the state have taken to farming due to unprecedented hunger, there were no cassava sticks or other seedlings to buy. It was learned that 50 improved cassava sticks cost about N1,000 even as they were nowhere to be found. Yams, cocoyam and other varieties of seedlings also cost a fortune.
A farmer, Mr Alphonsus Ugwu, told South East Voice that he tried to use piggery and poultry dung as alternative for fertilizer which cost between N11,000 and N12,000 but discovered that they were even more expensive than the actual fertiliser.
The state Chairman of Cassava Growers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Romanus Eze, confirmed the scarcity of both improved and non-improved cassava sticks, pointing out that the improved varieties was bought from the Nigerian Institute of Tropical Research, Ibadan.
Eze, who is also the secretary of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, in the state, said that he ordered 5000 bundles of improved Protein ‘A’ Cassava sticks adding that when the transportation cost of N800 per bundle was added the cost became “very prohibitive,” as transportation alone came to N4 million.
According to him, “the transportation cost of N800 is to Enugu, the state capital only. Local government officials would still pay additional transport fares when they collect their shares from Enugu to their respective destinations.”
Giving further insight into the scarcity of cassava stems, Eze said, “You know the level of hunger in this country. Because a lot of people are hungry, they uprooted their cassava during the dry season to see what they would eat. This was not the tradition before.
However, in the process of harvesting their cassava during the dry season, they lost their cassava stems and this is what we are paying for now.”
Meanwhile, Eneh, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, said that the Federal Government awarded the supply of fertiliser to some northern governors without making adequate arrangements to ensure enough supply in the south.
He regretted that although the farming season started in March in most of the southern states, their farmers were yet to get fertiliser.
“The situation is not coordinated. Very soon, farming will start in the north and the governors who got the fertiliser jobs to supply the items will divert supply to their farmers leaving the southern farmers with nothing.
“I do not know why the Federal Government would award contracts for the supply of fertiliser or rice to individual governors,” Eneh added.