Food crisis looms in Nigeria

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Stakeholders in the agricultural sector, especially farmers, have expressed fears over imminent food crisis owing to the continued rise in the prices of fertiliser.

They said if not checked the situation will affect this year’s rainy season farming and eventual harvest.

The farmers fear that the hike in price would deny many farmers access to this critical input needed to boost the fertility of their farmlands.

President of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Arc. Kabiru Ibrahim, confirmed the worry over the current prices of fertilizer in the country noting that it would affect the next farming season.

“Last year, because the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) did not give the usual subsidy to supply 20:10:10 at N5, 500, farmers could not afford the commodity as in previous years and this is directly proportional to the hike in food prices today,” he said.

He said if the prices of fertilizer remain like this, there will definitely be corresponding food inflation in the country.

Since the beginning of the 2021/2022 dry season farming, the prices of fertilizer have risen beyond the reach of many farmers.

Farmers and critical stakeholders in the sector say that unless the government intervenes, the country is likely to record low food production this year.

Situation in states

Reports from Niger State indicate that farmers are worried over rising prices of fertilizer, especially the Urea and NPK as they prepare for the rainy season.

A market survey revealed that the price of urea had moved from N11,000 to N18,000, while that of NPK has moved up from N10,000 to N16,000, though the prices varied from towns.

Some farmers, who spoke with Daily Trust, said the high cost of fertilizer would lower their productivity because production capacity is dependent on the cost of farm inputs.

A farmer, Hussaini Yakubu, said: “In some places, Urea is sold at the rate of N14,900 if you buy from the dealers, but it costs between N15,500 or N16,000 if sold to individuals. Before now, it was sold at the cost of N8,000 or N9,000 last rainy season.

In Kano State, a survey conducted shows that a bag of Urea now costs N16,500 to N16, 800 as against the N11,000 sold last year. It was also revealed that a bag of NPK fertilizer is selling at N12,000 to N19,000 depending on its limestone content as against the initial N10, 000 sold during last year’s rainy season.

The Chairman of Tomato Out-growers Association of Nigeria (TOGAN), Alhaji Sani Danladi Yadakwari, said though farmers in the state are hoping that the price of fertilizer will drop before the rainy season, the present hike is worrisome.

“We pray that this should be taken care of before the rainy season and as a farmer, I am optimistic that the price will drop,” he said.

Another farmer, Malam Habibu Tsakuwa, stated that he and other farmers have begun scouting for manure to use as the current price of fertilizer has shown that it is going to be beyond the reach of an average farmer.

He said that they have figured out that manure is the only answer for now.

In Kaduna State, the dealer price of urea fertilizer is between N15,800 and N16,000 while the retail price has risen to between N16,500 and N17,500 from N11,000.

It was gathered that NPK is sold at between N17, 000 and N19, 000 at retail price as against N12, 000 it was sold same time last wet season.

Malam Haruna Tinau, a member of the Rice Farmers Association in Nigeria (RIFAN) in Kaduna State, said: “We are not yet in the rainy season and it is approaching N20,000, that tells you things are going to be difficult this year.”

Farmers in Kaduna State are equally disturbed by the surge in the market price of fertilizer, a development they said affected their dry season activities and may likely affect the forthcoming wet season.

Findings at Funtua and Dandume markets revealed that Urea variety was sold at N15,700, N15, 600, and N15, 500 for Dangote, Indorama and Notore respectively.

Similarly, a bag of NPK 20:10:10 variety was sold at N12,200, N10,500 for Savannah and Tac Agro respectively.

Our checks further showed that NPK 15:15:15, which the FG banned its importation was scarce in the markets and was sold at not less than N28,000.

A fertilizer dealer said the high cost is due to the “FG’s ban on the importation of NPK 15:15:15 fertilizer, which put more pressure on the locally made Urea and 20:10:10.”

Sani Suleiman, a farmer in Funtua, said the high cost of fertilizer was one of the reasons many irrigation farmers cultivated wheat in this dry season instead of tomatoes and Irish potatoes.

“Tomatoes and Irish potato need ample fertilizer to give the desired result and its price is fast going beyond our reach hence we cultivated wheat that needs not much fertilizer,” he said.