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Farmers count losses over COVID-19 pandemic

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By Jimoh Babatunde

As hoteliers in Lagos State, on the platform of Hotel Owners and Managers Association of Lagos, HOMAL, call for the release of reopening protocols to enable members to go back to business, farmers are counting their losses to the continued closure of the sector over COVID-19.

General Manager of Tuns Farms, Osogbo, Osun State, Mr Taofeek Badmus, disclosed that apart from the inability to sell products because most off-takers are off business, the cost of feeds for the poultry is too costly, making production and sustainability a difficulty.

He said: “The truth is that we are facing the brunt during this time. The cost of raw materials has seen a steady rise, while the cost of the final product has been stagnant.

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“The closure of hotels, event centres and functions has also affected sales of (farm) products with many of us having large stocks of finished products.

“Our experience was particularly painful during the lockdown as we kept on feeding birds and there was no market to sell them.

“The sale has reduced drastically. There is also a glut of products now, and has everybody is now forced to sell at lower prices,” he lamented.

For the Managing Director, Agrecourse Ltd, a crowd-funding platform for agriculture, Ayoola Oluga, the gains made by farmers after the Federal Government closed the land borders last year are going down the drains.

“However,” he added, “with the advent of the coronavirus, another set of problems have arisen. Some farmers have continued to find it difficult to sell their products, especially fish farmers.

“This is mainly due to the shutdown of the hospitality sector, where you find the major off-takers.”

Mr Ayo Arikawe, Chief Technology Officer, ThriveAgric, another crowd-funding platform for agro-allied investments, explained that chickens from their farms are mostly sold to “processors, who, in turn, sell to restaurants and hotels.

“And we know this affects their sales, making them keep more stocks in cold rooms unnecessarily, and there is an increased logistics cost for them. We essentially reduce the birds stocked this period to match off-takers’ demand.”

Mr. Rotimi Olibale Oloye, National President, Catfish and Allied Fish Farmers Association of Nigeria (CAFFAN), said: “Our product is mostly used for social events, thus the lockdown has very serious negative effects on our business.

“That is why it is essential for the government to work out support for us because most of us are already out of jobs as our entire capital had gone to continuous loss of the past three months as the few sales made were a total loss.”

Also lamenting farmers losses to COVID-19, Chief Operating Officer, Agro Park, Mr. Ayodele Alabi, said as a result of the restrictions across the country, a good number of the off-take partners had either reduced or shut down operations.

Vanguard

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