Hope Dims For Northern Farmers As Rain Ceases Abruptly

Food News

Farmers in some states in the North have recorded low harvest on some grains due to early cessation of rainfall, a situation that has pushed up the prices of the grains compared to the same time last year.

Farmers who do not have access to irrigation facilities were mostly caught up as they watch their crops dry up in pains.

Last year, same period at harvest, the prices of grains like maize and rice were low at N9,000 and N11,000 per 100kg bag respectively. But this year, the prices are high with maize and rice selling at N19,000 and N20,000 respectively.

Our correspondents across the northern states report that farmers are worried over the situation and the prices in the major grains markets are responding to the low supply.

In Bauchi State, many farmers have been affected by early cessation rainfall across the state. The situation has already compelled farmers living along major rivers and other riverine areas to resorts to watering their crops especially rice and sorghum to mitigate loses.

Daily Trust reported that Bauchi had in the beginning of the season witnessed inconsistent rainfall in many parts of the state, a situation that compelled majority of farmers to plants their crops late and others reduced the size and quantity of their crops for fear of the unknown.

Our correspondent, who visited the popular Mararba Liman Katagum Market, observed low turnout of farmers and their grains in the market as a result of the situation, leaving traders and other buyers in suspense.

Minister of Agriculture, Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar

A farmer in Liman Katagum Bauchi LGA, Muhammed Auwal, said that cessation of rain had led to crops drying off in many farms in their area, a situation that had thrown many farmers into a dilemma and pushed up the prices of newly harvested crops in the markets.

Auwal said, “Last season, we sold rice at the beginning of the season between N300 and N350 per mudu, depending on the quality and this season, the same mudu sells between N450 to N600.

A mudu of maize last season was N120 to N150 but now it is between N200 to N250. A mudu of beans last season was N250 but now it is N500. A mudu of soyabean last season was N300 but this season it is N400 per mudu.

Auwal explained further: “My maize was badly affected because I expected to harvest 30 bags but I harvested three bags. The rice farm has also followed suit because I don’t know if I can get one bag of rice because of the cessation of rain, and the farm is located on a hill area where there’s no opportunity to get water to water the farm. We are now in a dilemma for lack of alternative.”

A rice farmer who lost the entire crops at two farms in Liman Katagum, Yayaha Kanawa, told Daily Trust on Sunday that the cessation of rainfall had already plunged farmers into untold hardships and loss of their crops.

“I planted rice in three different farms and I expected to harvest 40 bags of rice but right now it will be difficult to harvest three bags of rice. Our family farm where we planted two bags of maize is now gradually drying off and the maize has not matured, talk less of harvesting. We have left everything to Almighty Allah and seeking his intervention,” he said.

Meanwhile, grains traders are also affected by the situation in the state. Maiwada Bakoji said that traders are also losing their capitals as a result of the poor harvest.

“We go round various village markets to buy crops but only few farmers turn off with their grains. We wasted our money to transport ourselves to markets without enough grain to buy, coupled with poor sales in cities. The situation affecting farmers has left the traders stranded because few farmers are bringing their harvested crops to the markets while a good number are yet to harvest amidst cessation of rainfall,” he explained.

Farmers in Kano State are seriously worried over early cessation of rain in most parts of the state as sorghum, beans, rice and soya beans were yet to be harvested. However, findings have shown that millet has already been harvested likewise maize as well as early yielding beans in most parts of the state.

It was also gathered that many rice farmers have lost hope in having any harvest this year while some that have their rice farms closer to water source have devised manual means to water their rice plantation in anticipation of saving their crops.

Similarly, it was observed that due to the early cessation of rain currently experienced, crops, particularly the legumes, have started to show signs of wilting while the other cereals are also gradually showing the same signs due to inadequate water.

According to Malam Ubale Hassan, a farmer in Warawa Local Government Area, though some crops were harvested successfully, some farmers were facing a serious threat of losing all their remaining harvest due to the lack of rain, adding that farmers had resorted to seeking divine intervention to address the situation spiritually.

At Dawanau International grain market, it was discovered that by this time last year, a 100kg bag of new millet was sold at N14, 000 as against the N17, 000 current price. A 100kg bag of new beans was sold at N35, 500 while it presently sells at N43, 000.

Similarly, a 100kg bag of new maize last year’s harvesting period was sold at N14, 000 while presently it is selling at N17, 000

In Sokoto State, the situation is the same. Malam Musa, a farmer, told our reporter that he planted sorghum, beans, groundnut and sweet potatoes but apart from sorghum, the rest dried up due to lack of rain.

“I was expecting a bumper harvest because of the huge investment I made on my farm. We didn’t anticipate this development because the rain didn’t come in time. That was why many farmers planted their crops late. But all that I have planted with the exception of sorghum have dried up because the rainy season didn’t last long,” he said.

Another farmer, Muhammad Sa’idu Koko, who lost virtually all his produce because of lack of rain, expressed fear that there could be shortage of food in the country except government intervenes by supporting dry season farmers.

“As I am talking to you, prices of food items have started going up. About two weeks ago, I bought a 100kg bag of millet at N15,500 and maize at N14,500 but before last Friday the price changed. I bought a bag of millet at N16,000 and maize at N15,000 and a friend told me he bought a bag of millet at 17,500, guinea corn at 17,500 and maize at 16,200 last Tuesday. So, this is how the price is souring because of the poor harvest this year,” he said.

In Kaduna State, our correspondent reports that the farmers and grain sellers are attributing this year’s astronomical rise in the prices of grains to changes in weather, market condition as well as the country’s economic challenges which affects every facet of life.

Recent security measures which saw to the ban in weekly markets in some selected areas have given rise to scarcity in grains which resulted in increasing prices.

Hassan Ibrahim, a resident of Saminaka in Lere Local Government Area which is one of Kaduna’s largest maize producing LGAs, said maize farmers in the area had recorded good harvest.

He said a bumper maize harvest had led to a crash in the price of the grain, adding that maize was sold at N23,000 but by the time our harvest was ready and the grain was released to the market, the price crashed to N15,000.

Our correspondent visited the grain market in Bakin Dogo, Kaduna and its Chairman, Yusuf Haruna, said this year is turning out as the most challenging for Nigerians as the prices of grains have been on the rise while the buying capacity of ordinary Nigerians has fallen.

Haruna said even the year 2020 which witnessed COVID-19 pandemic had not been as daunting as the present year.

“2021 has come with a lot of changes and challenges within and outside the market. I have never sold a bag of white beans for N50,000 in my life but this year, I sold a bag of beans for N70,000. Last year, we sold the beans for N40,000. Also, maize which we sold at N22,000 or N23,000 hit N27,000 while millet which was sold at N22,000 was sold between N27,000 and N29,000 this year,” he said.

For Benue grains farmers, it’s mixed feelings as they begin early harvest of produce at their farms in different parts of the state.

Some of them have harvested maize and are currently reaping their rice in batches. However, many others are yet to venture into gathering their sheaf.

For many farmers in the state, who cultivated their maize in June/July, this year, their harvest had been ready since September when they picked corn cobs after it was dried on the field.

Though the prices slightly vary in all of the local markets, however, a paddy of rice sold at Ihugh market between N19,000 and N17,000 while the prices of maize remain at between N22,000 and N25,000 in rural grains markets.

But, for Vitalis Tarnongu, a big-time grains farmer, the maize harvest was not as encouraging as the rice while there are hopes that the others such as soybean and beans would turn out well.

“Generally, maize this year within Makurdi and its environs is not encouraging. Maize yield is poor due to inconsistent rain fail. For rice, soybeans and cowpea, there is very high hope for us. We have started harvesting rice and the yield is encouraging while we wait for cowpea and soybeans which looks very promising.

“The current price of maize remains as if it is not being harvested now. The price is very high since farmers’ production is low due to poor harvest. On a general note, prices of all the commodity remains steadily on the increase as rice harvest has not commence in earnest. Although we anticipate drop in prices of commodities, but it can’t be compared to what was obtained last year,” he said.

In Jos, Plateau State capital, the situation varies as several farmers had different experiences. While some said they made more yield this year because of the COVID-19 lockdown last year, others said they made lesser harvest than last year because of early cessation of the rains, frequent crisis in the state, pest invasion of crops.

A female farmer in Lamingo area of Jos North, Mrs. Atong James, said last year she harvested 30 bags of maize, 10 bags of rice and 10 bags of soya beans.

Atong further explained that only few people have harvested maize and she gathered that they are currently selling between N18,000 and N20,000 because it is generally a harvest period and more of the grains are coming into the market now.

Meanwhile, a grain seller in Yan Doya Market behind old Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), Muhammed Murtala, said some grains for this year are yet to come into the market, and that most of the grains they are selling are still those of last year.

Murtala said the few grains harvested this year and brought to the market are still expensive, citing example with a bag of millet which was sold at N12,000 last year, but the few that have entered the market are sold at about N23,000.

For rice (the particular brand he sells), he said a bag was sold at N36,000 last year, but this year they are already selling N37,000 (for those that have been brought to the market).

According to him, a bag of beans was sold for N28,000 last year, but the available ones in the market right now is being sold for N45,000.

In Gombe State, newly harvested farm produce have started flooding the main grain market at Tudun Hatsi in Gombe metropolis, a development that slightly affected the price of the commodities.

Prices is going up in grain markets like this one in Tsafe, Zamfara State Photo: Abdulaziz Abdulaziz

Our correspondent who visited the market reports that there were lots of activities as farmers and grain merchants are busy with business transaction, while trucks are leaving the market loaded with grains to different markets across the country.

Investigation revealed that price of the commodities has started to rise, after the arrival of newly harvested farm produce into the market.

A grain merchant, Alhaji Salisu, told Daily Trust that a bag of newly harvested beans is selling between N41,000 and N42,000 this year, which at the same time last was sold at between N37,000 and N38,000.

He said: “A bag of maize is N17,000 to N18,000, while the same bag was sold at N14,000 to N15,000 last farming season.

Meanwhile, a bag of new soya beans is hovering at the price of N33,000 and N34,000, however it was observed that the price keeps depreciating because of the arrival of new harvest into the market. The soya beans bag cost N28,000 in the previous farming season.

Farmers who planted crops early have witnessed bumper harvest in Taraba State.

Findings revealed that maize, rice, and millet planted early were harvested and the farmers have witnessed bumper harvest.

Alhaji Ali Maihula, a large-scale farmer at Maihula village in Bali Local Government Area told Daily Trust on Sunday that he witnessed bumper harvest in his rice and maize farms.

He said one of his maize farms from where he harvested 200 bags last year, gave him 250kg bags of maize this year.

However, there is decline in millet production in Taraba State as most of the farmers abandoned millet farming to other crops such as maize, rice and soya beans because of high demand and good price.

Findings revealed that only areas around Danbazau and Yerima in Gassol Local Government Area grow millet in commercial quantity but in other areas, only few farmers grow millet and that was why much of the millet sold and consumed in Taraba are purchased from Gombe, Bauchi, Yobe and Jigawa states.

In Jalingo market, a 100kg bag of newly harvested maize is sold at N15,000 as against N24,000 sold before the harvest started.

Similarly, a 100kg bag of paddy rice is now sold at 12,000 in Jalingo market as against N18,000 sold before.

However, outside Jalingo, for example at Maihula, Mutumbiyu, Garba Ched, Dakka and Jatau, a 100kg bag of newly harvested maize is sold at between N8,000 and N12,000.

In Katsina, despite the early cessation of rainfall in September in the state, maize, millet and rice farmers have recorded bumper harvest compared to last year when excess rainfall affected their yields.

A farmer, Alhaji Basiru Shehu Kankara, said because there was massive cultivation of rice this year, large number of farmers who planted varieties that mature early have recorded a bumper harvest.

He added that the farm produce that suffered the early cessation of rainfall and were yet to be harvested were cowpeas, soybeans and rice varieties that mature late as well as sorghum.

Alhaji Basiru further said because of the shortage of rainfall, such crops will give poor outcomes.

“Most of soybeans farmers this year will run at a loss, same with sorghum and beans farmers. Many farmers that may decide to opt for irrigation farming will also find it difficult as rivers, tube wells and other sources of water are seriously affected by the rain stoppage; and there are no viable irrigation dams in the areas,” said Alhaji Basiru Shehu.

Our reporter who went round Danja, Dandume, Funtua and Bakori markets observed that because of the high cost of the farm produce compared to last year, farmers were supplying the markets in bulk without recourse to what the future holds regarding high cost of food items.

A 100kg bag of maize that was sold last year between N12,000 and N14,000 is now N15,000. New beans usually produced in the northern part of the state was sold at N40,000 per 100kg bag as against N18,000 to N19,000 it was sold last year.

Millet was sold last year at N16,000 per 100kg bag but it is now between N19,000 and N20,000 while paddy rice that was seen to be massively cultivated was sold at N13,000 to N15,000 per 100Kg bag but last year it was sold at N11,000 to N13,000.

By Hussein Yahaya, Vincent A. Yusuf (Abuja) Hassan Ibrahim (Bauchi), Abdulkadir Shehu (Kaduna), Dickson S. Adama (Jos), Abubakar Auwal (Sokoto), Mahmoud Idris (Katsina), Hope Abah Emmanuel (Makurdi), Magaji Isa Hunkuyi (Jalingo,) Ibrahim Musa Giginyu (Kano) & Haruna Gimba Yaya (Gombe.

www.dailytrust.com.ng/hope-dims-for-northern-farmers-as-rain-ceases-abruptly

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