Thursday, 14 July 2016

Benue Subsidised Fertilizer Can't Be Found, Farmers Cry Out

By Hope Abah
Makurdi — Farmers in Benue State are currently groaning over the high cost of fertilizer in market, saying the government subsidised ones are nowhere to be found.

The state government flagged off the sales of fertilizer at a subsidised rate of N4,000 for farmers in the state in May this year.

Governor Samuel Ortom, while speaking at the launching of the 2016 cropping season and flag-off of fertiliser sale and distribution at Tse-Ukegber in Guma LGA of the state, had said the government approved a total of 5,100 metric tons of fertiliser which is equivalent to 170 trucks of assorted brands.

Ortom also said 10,000 litres of liquid fertilizer would be supplied directly to farmers by selected genuine and competent fertilizer vendors at 38 percent subsidy. He, therefore, urged farmers in the state to visit stores nearest to them in the 23 LGAs' divisional agriculture offices to purchase a 50kg bag of fertilizer at N4,000 or obtain a litre of the product at N2,000.

Daily Trust, however, reports that two months after the flag-off, the farmers have complained about non-availability of the input in their respective localities.

A yam farmer in Logo LGA, Tor Aca, said he was yet to get fertilizer at government's prices in his area. "We have not heard or seen anything of such. So far, we have sourced our fertilizer from the open market at N10, 000 per 50kg bag," he said.

Another farmer in the area, Sesugh Kivie, said he heard that the product was brought to the council headquarters at Ugba and sold at N4,000 but that it was not enough for majority of the people to purchase.

In Otukpo, Sunday Audu and Enokela Adah, who farm yam, maize and rice respectively, said they purchased different types of fertilizer at between N7,500 and N6,500 from the open market as the government subsidised fertilizer which initially sold for N4, 500 in the area was hijacked by some politicians who in turn sold it to farmers at N6, 500.

"Nobody is getting it here at the actual government subsidised rate," Audu said.

Meanwhile, the state chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Aondona Hembe Kula, said the state government subsidised fertiliser brought to the local government areas were grossly insufficient to meet the farmers' needs.

Kula, however, expressed confidence that the federal government's agro support which would commence soon in the state, would bridge the gap and that the farmers would then get more than enough.

When contacted, the Public Relations Officer of the state's Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Ahantgba Ayati, said the non-availability of the fertilizer was caused by the suppliers who jettisoned their earlier agreement with the government.

Ayati explained that the suppliers wanted government to review the contractual agreement entered with them on the ground that the dollar had skyrocketed and they would not be able to supply the products on the initial terms.

"The government, however, considered that before it reviewed the contract, the planting season would have been over," Ayati said.

He added that those contractors who later agreed to bring fertiliser to the state on government terms were yet to supply enough due to the long Sallah holidays but expressed optimism that the product would soon flood the state in the coming week.

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