Some farmers in Gombe State have appealed to the Federal Government to re-introduce Commodity Marketing Board to protect the interest of farmers after harvest to boost food security in the country.
The farmers who made the appeal in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Gombe, said farming is becoming too expensive while returns on investment are no longer sustainable to them.
Alhaji Umar Sadiq, a maize farmer said farmers are complaining about the low price of produce in the market, adding that off-takers are short-changing them because the price is not being regulated by any board.
According to Sadiq, many farmers are jettisoning farming for off-taking of produce because they are running at losses as off-takers make more money than the real farmers which is a threat to food security.
“We want government to bring back our marketing board for commodity. If this is done, we will have a situation where farmers get back all the expenses incurred in farming.
“Farming is expensive. When we harvest, we must prepare for the next planting season by buying fertilisers and other pest control chemicals which are very expensive. The cost of labour is not included.
“But today a bag of maize is N6, 000 and a bag of NPK fertiliser is between N9,000 and N10, 000. So we are selling three bags of maize to buy two bags of fertilisers.
“It is from the proceeds of farming that we feed and cater for the needs of our households. Life is becoming too difficult because there is no price control on any commodity,” he said.
Sadiq added:“ Most off-takers will just buy out our produce as cheaply as we sell and hoard them until the price goes up and then sell and make more money while the farmers get little.
“Many farmers refused to plant during the dry season because they couldn’t get enough money to farm. So most of them wait for harvest, take loans to buy cheap maize and store them for the price to shoot up.
“If nothing is done, we may wake up one day to find out that all farmers have turned to off-takers which is a threat to food security.’’
Abubakar Usman, a rice farmer corroborated the claim, saying that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s initiative to alleviate poverty among farmers through the various agricultural programmes has been hijacked by fake farmers and administrators who don’t care about farmers.
“Imagine what is happening that people who have no business with farming get loans and fertilisers while the real farmers are denied.
“Last year I couldn’t grow enough crops and even the rice I cultivated was in small quantity because I have no support. And when you take loans elsewhere we can’t pay back.
“We sell our produce so cheaply to off-takers because we must survive. There should be a minimum price to protect farmers. Agriculture is our only vocation in Gombe,’’ Umar said.
He appealed to the government to come up with programmes that would protect farmers after harvest, adding that such would encourage them to stay in the business of farming and boost food security.(NAN)