Shere, an agrarian village in Bwari area council of the FCT, is a village with huge numbers of young people between the ages of 15 and 40 engaged in farming. But failed government promises have heightened distrust. They relayed their ordeal toJOHN OBA.
Shere farmers are majorly youth who engaged in farming maize, soybeans, beans, potatoes, ginger, yam etc to train and sponsor themselves in school, while other combine farming with motorcycle riding. Despite their passion and enthusiasm for farming, they lamented lack of assistance from the government in any form. Even though, they hear of various efforts by the current administration in agriculture especially young farmers, they have not been able to benefit. Ironically, they have been repeatedly exploited by those posing as government agents who collect money from them with promises to get them loans, fertilizer and other agricultural inputs.
Poor ginger harvest
The young farmers lamented the impact of the climate change on farm activities in the area saying climate change affected farmers that planted crops like beans as most of the beans planted dried off because the rains stopped before the normal time.
While the drop in price of ginger further compounded the problems of ginger farmers who went into ginger farming because of the high cost but now most of those that planted ginger are running at loss as the price dropped sharply. “For instance, a bag of ginger which goes for N25,000 suddenly dropped to N8,000, N5000,” the youths cited.
Also, Mr Adamu Sarkin Shamavin, one of the youth leaders said lack of fertilizer resulted in poor ginger harvest for the farmers in the village. Pointing to a hip of ginger harvested from his farm, he said: “What you are seeing now is as a result of lack of fertilizer. Some government representatives came here and promised us fertilizer, they registered over 1000 farmers who paid N200 each, and they gave us what they called validation card, with the promise that they were bringing fertilizer at a subsidised rate. We did not see the fertilizer and we did not get back our money. And one of our major needs as farmers is fertilizer, we had to result to the use of cow dung as manures for the ginger.”
Also on the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme, we were deceived with the promise of input, but till date, we have not receive any input or a dim from the bank. That was another painful experience, as we gave 1000 hectares of land for the programmes, the land was land surveyed but nothing came out of it.
He explained that under the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) Soybean programme, some people in his group spent over N10,000 through different charges. “They collected money for bank charges, registration, buying of forms, yet all the money went with nothing to show for it. I have made up my mind that I and my wife will not join any cooperatives. We will do the little within our ability, because these people are just out to exploit us.
“Shere gave 1000 hectares of land for the CBN programme and BOA soybeans programme with the hope that they would come and give us inputs and funds which will be given back after harvest, but everything was a deceit,” the youth said.
Youth president, Shere Youth Development Association (SYDA) Mr Aliyu Dada Sherek, collaborated the stories of exploitation by the anchor borrowers programme saying: “members of our farmer’s cooperatives were severally exploited under the Anchor Borrowers programme, as they paid over N10,000 for several registrations with nothing to show for it.
“I was a secretary of one of the cooperatives, Aleke Multi-Purpose Farmers Cooperative, until I resigned and left the cooperative because all we were doing at every meeting was to contribute money with no benefit from the government,” he complained.
The youth also lamented how they were defrauded by some people who parade themselves as government representatives. “They came, registered over 1000 farmers with N200 each, but till date, we have not seen even a cup of fertilizer.
When Blueprint correspondent demanded to see the card given to the farmers, he discovered that they could not trace it to any office as it only bore the logo of CBN, NIRSAL, Ministry of Agriculture, Cellulant, and NIMC with GES written on it.
It will be recalled that the present administration did not budget money for the Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES) programme as it is still struggling to settle the debt owed the agro-dealers.
Lack of road
The youth president, further explained that lack of access road to the city centre was discouraging farmers as most farm produces rot away before they are taken to market. “Vehicle hardly access the village because of the nature of the road and worst of all is the lies by the Director, Resettlement and Compensation, FCTA, Mrs. Helen, who told us that the road from Mpape to Shere resettlement is 97 per cent completed. For over eight year, no work has been done on the road, yet an official has the audacity to lie to the world in such reckless manner,” he lamented.
He called on the FCT minister to visit the Mpape-Shere road, to see himself the situation of the road.
Plead to government
He therefore called on the government to construct the road from Shere to Mpape, which according to him, will make it easy for farmers from the village and its environs access the city centre.
“Our road is so bad that we want the Minister of FCT to please visit to see for himself the road they are claiming that it is 97 per cent completed.
“Also many NGOs and government have promised to give us farming implements, but we have not seen any. This kind of promise and fail is really bringing mistrust. We can’t trust the government again after all these promises. Before, Bwari Area Council use to give us about 2000 bags of fertilizer but the best it did recently was to provide 40 bags to Shere ward and Shere polling unit got three bags, when in time past, only three farmers use 40 bags. That fertilizer was distributed using mudu measurement, which is about 8 cups of milk tin per house hold. Many farmers cut down on the quantity of their farming because of lack of inputs.
“Many farmers cleared their land early in the year to farm because they believe that they would have access to fertilizer and other inputs but when all these didn’t come many abandoned most of the land. Look at the ginger we are harvesting now, this is a poor harvest,” he revealed
Need for tractors
The youth also called for the provision of tractors as part of ways to encourage farm mechanisation and also ease the means of farming in the area.
According to Aliyu, the government should provide two tractors each to the ten wards in the area council, saying that even if they would be made to pay for it, it would ease farming to a large extend.
“We have ten wards, what stop the government from providing us with two tractors each, to make our farming less stressful and encourage more youth into farming,” he counseled.