Irrigation farmers in Katsina State have decried the high cost of Irish Potato seeds, a development that altered the budget of farmers aiming to plant early.
Early planters, according to the farmers, have the advantage of their crop passing through the cold season of November, December and January for a better yield.
Malam Umar Kanawa, a farmer, said there was a plan by most of the irrigation farmers to take off early this year but the surging cost of seed has slowed them down.
“Lack of capital is our major setback, especially with the current economic hardship in the country. We source our potato seed from Plateau State and this year, the produce seems scarce and costly. By this time last year, we bought a 100kg bag for N50,000 to N55,000 but last week, we paid N70,000. That is why many of us are yet to plant, because we are re-strategising.”
Kanawa, however, added that high food demand has made potato farming a promising venture this year, which was why they couldn’t change to other crops like tomato.
“High cost of living has made people to look for alternative food items, and the crop requires to be watered only 10 times at an interval of one week in its three months life span; therefore, its production consumes less fuel than tomato,” said Malam Kabir Kanawa.
Alhaji Nafi’u Idris, Sarkin Dankali Bakori, said the produce was scarce in Plateau State and sourcing the seeds has become a herculean task.
“Considering the scarcity of the produce in Plateau State, one can say the price of the seed has started on a good note. There are areas we dare not go because of insecurity. The produce is acutely scarce as some farmers in Riyom and Bokkos have withheld the seeds for their use,” said Nafi’u Idris.
He advised farmers in Katsina State to make use of what was on ground as there were tendencies of the seeds ceasing from markets.
It was reported in the media last week that potato fungus called blight, unavailability of the pesticide to fight the disease and lack of farmers’ access to fertiliser, as well as insecurity that led to loss of lives, destruction of farmlands and properties were the major factors promoting scarcity and high cost of the crop in Plateau State.
Another farmer in the state, Salisu Namairo, said it was not proper for farmers to always be spoon fed with seeds from Plateau State.
“Since we have taken this Irish Potato production as a business, we should device ways of selecting and preserving our seeds to avoid being caught unawares like in a situation as this. Each farmer can select seeds from his output after every harvest and preserve it in a sandy ventilated space before another round of planting.”
Namairo added that the high cost of living and the lingering insecurity in the country were enough reasons for farmers to look inwards and come up with solutions to some of their farming challenges.