2 January 2013

Nigeria: Zamfara, Katsina Farmers Berate FG's Efforts Over Irrigation

Farmers in Zamfara and Katsina states have denied newspaper report that they have not been assisted by their state governments with necessary farm implements to go into mass irrigation farming.

The newspaper (not Daily Trust) quoted the farmers in the two states as pleading with the federal government to assist them with water pumping machines and fertilizer to embark on irrigation farming as their state governments have failed in that direction.

The report said the farmers complainted to newsmen that toured agricultural projects in the state that the federal government should assist them with subsidized water pump machines and fertilizer to enable them make up for losses they incurred in the recent flood since the state could not help them.

But a statement signed and made available to Daily Trust by the Senior Information officer (SIO) of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture that coordinated the media tour in the two states said the farmers in the states told the journalists that visited the area that the Federal Government should assist them with water pumping machines and fertilizer to enhance their agricultural production.

According to a release, farmers in Kano and Jigawa states also expressed appreciation for the initiative hoping that it will continue for the betterment of the small-scale farmer.

But farmers from Zamfara State that spoke to Daily Trust said the statement does not represent the reality on ground and the complaint they lodged to the visiting journalists.

Alhaji Mohammed Bakyasuwa said,

"The Federal Ministry of Agriculture changed what we said and is running away from its responsibilities. Some journalists actually came to Mafara and met those of us farming under the Bakalori Dam irrigation project.

"We told them that of the over 5,000 farmers farming under that project being coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, not a single farmer has benefitted from the GES programme. Not a single farmer got a single bag of fertilizer from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. The Federal Ministry of Water Resources that is willing to assist us told us that they have no access to fertilizer. It is Zamfara State government that has been providing us with fertilizer at N1,000 per bag even when it is a Federal Government project.

"So, our complaint still remains the same. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture should discharge its responsibility of providing irrigation farmers under the Bakalori irrigation scheme, a Federal Government arrangement, with fertilizer, improved seedlings, proper attention and farming implements and stop using us to play politics. If there is a single assistance they ever rendered to us under the GES program, let them say it," he said.

An irrigation farmer at Yandoton Daji in the state, Malam Musa Yandoto, said when the newsmen visited the state, the state government was distributing water pumping machines, fertilizer, seedlings and insecticides and wondered how farmers will still ask the state government to give to them what they already have.

"I spoke on behalf of my fellow farmers here. I remember telling them that if the Federal Government really wants to encourage irrigation farming in the state, it should emulate the state government by providing farmers in the state with pumping machines, fertilizer and other farming implements. The state government has rolled out its irrigation programme and we have all benefitted. Let the federal government do something also. They cannot be visiting us always and be making fake promises," he said.

Also in Katsina, irrigation farmers in the state have confirmed to Daily Trust that the level of assistance from the federal government was minimal.

Alhaji Muhammad Isyaku Jibia an irrigation farmer in Jibia Local Government hinted Daily Trust that although the federal government launched the 2012 sales of fertilizers in the area, the commodity was yet to reach them almost three months after the launching.

Jibia explained that, "the exercise ended up in ceremonies because we have not got the commodity yet. Apart from the one the state and the local governments brought to us, we have not seen any from the federal government."

Another farmer, Ibrahim Muhammad, told Daily Trust that the state government provided substantial tonnes of fertilizers to them in 2012.

Contrary to Jibia's opinion, some irrigation farmers in Dutsin-ma, who pleaded for anonymity, blamed the state government for not providing enough fertilizers to them.

They described the government's policy on distribution of the commodity as political, saying "it is nothing but propaganda because the commodity being supplied by government is not enough to cover the state. Sometimes a farmer would end up getting one or two measures of fertilizers. How can two measures of fertilizer cover a farmland? They are diverting the commodity to politicians and the black markets."

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