Smallholders farmers are, according to statistics, the backbone of Nigerian agriculture. But findings show that these farmers achieved this feat through personal efforts, as most government programmes in the sector hardly get to the rural areas where majority of the smallholders farmers lives.JOHN OBA, who visited Igu village in Bwari area council of the FCT, writes
GESS and ABP
The Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GESS) under the previous administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, was a policy that encourages definite shift within the existing Fertilizer Market Stabilization Programme.
The programme put the resource-constrained farmer at the centre through the provision of series of incentives to encourage the critical actors in the fertilizer value chain to work together to improve productivity, household food security and income of the farmer, especially those in the rural areas.
But the programme slowed down with the coming of the present administration aswith th the e introduction of the Central Bank Of Nigeria (CBN) Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) with almost the same objectives of creating a linkage between anchor companies involved in the processing and Small Holder Farmers (SHFs) of the required key agricultural commodities. Though a component in the GESS, it seems not to be achieving it objectives as most villagers who needed the inputs are left out. Many SHFs within the FCT, which ordinarily would be the first beneficiaries of the programme have one tale of disappointment to tell.
Igu village: The same story
The Blueprint Rural Farmers report visited Igu village which is under Bwari local government area, about 6 km from Bwari and 20 km from Mpape, and it was an expressions of dashed hope by the whole farmers.
The Village head, Chief Dauda Yarima, who saw the previous edition of the Rural Farmers report said: “This is exactly what we are suffering. Fertiliser was our main problem in this past raining season. There was no single fertiliser given to us. The best we got was measure with milk tin. And the ones we buy in the market was too costly, it is as high as N10,000. And the government promised to give us fertilizer, our people were registered but till now, we haven’t seen anything. They came and said they were registering us under the GESS programme. Under the former administration, the GESS really helped a lot of people, then, an individual got two bags but now, we got nothing. I cultivated maize on a two hectares land, and I was supposed to get nothing less than 50 bags but due to lack of fertilizer, I don’t get up to four bags.
When we planted, we apply the first section of fertilizer, but when it was time to apply the second section, there was no money. I use ten bags and each is sold for N10,000 and this brought failure to our production.
“You can see us harvesting our Guinea-corn, the good yields you are seeing is because we applied local fertilizer, that is, we use cow dung on the farm before cultivation. But see the ginger that was planted without fertilizer, it did not produce well. I planted one bag of ginger sold then for N9000, but when were to harvest it, we only got one bag, and now one bag is not even up to N9000 anymore. So fertilizer is one of our major problems, if the government can give us fertilizer, we would have huge production.”
Preservation of guinea corn
Speaking on the preservative model for guinea corn, Chief Dauda, explained that the shaft would be harvest and left in the farm for 7 day, this according to him, will prevent rottenness. If left in the farm for at least one week, no matter how you store it, it will get spoil. That was how we saw our grandfather.
The assistant youth leader in Igu village, Abdulkarim Tanko, said youth in the village did their bit but it wasn’t good enough because of lack of fund. “We had about the programme and we were expecting inputs but nothing came. During the last administration, we got inputs but since this government assumed office, farmer have not gotten anything.
“Not that we needed much money, with N50,000 we can achieve a lot. But this government seems insincere, under Jonathan, we got slots of input, and we were able to produce higher. This year, we only got two bags per committee, through the village head and this is from some politicians like Aduda who want our vote.
Tanko pleaded with the government to complete the road saying lack of passable road compounds the problem of post harvest losses.
“This year, we planted corn, beans, ginger, yam, onions and cassava, these are the major ones. But our major challenges are lack of road, lack of storage facilities, we produce a lot of maize this year, but we had to employ local method of storing it. And this reduces the value and at times, pest enters and destroys it, leading to post harvest losses. And selling maize this year is not encouraging, because there are surplus maize leading to low price. And if you sell at such price, you wouldn’t be able to recoup the amount spend on the farm, not to talk of making profit.
The youth leader also lamented lack of funds saying it has not gotten any amount from the government, explaining that funds availability would encourage youth to work in the farm. The youth said government should send off takers to buy off their farm produce.