Makurdi — Beniseed (sesame) farmers in Benue State are poised to smile to the banks in this year's harvest as demand for the produce increases on a daily basis.
Our correspondent gathered that the farmers, many of who just started harvesting, are already elated about the returns they would realise following the high demand of the produce by buyers from within and outside the state.
Reports from Katsina, Jigawa, Bauchi and some parts of Kano and some other states, where the crop is grown, suggest that farmers in the areas completed their harvests a few weeks back.
They were said to have recorded bumper harvests with the demands in those states much higher than last year.
Daily Trust visited a merchandise facility situated on KM 20 along Naka road in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, where the salesmen said they have started purchasing the product in 100kg bags to preserve and resell in a few months' time when the demand becomes highest.
One of the salesmen, who craved anonymity, said they could not be certain if the harvest this year would be better than the previous season because harvest was still in progress.
But, the state Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Mr. Aondona Hembe Kuhe, expressed joy that beniseed harvest this year was good and quite higher than last season's.
"Beside the good harvest, the demand for beniseed is higher this year. A 100kg bag is now sold for N32,000 as against last year when it cost lower. The harvest too is better this year than the last season," Kuhe added.
Also, a beniseed farmer in Ogobia - Otukpo Local Government Area of the state, Victor Abu, told our correspondent that he recorded bumper harvest and that a 100kg bag of the produce from his farm sold for N36,000 at the village market.
He said due to high market value of the produce in his area, middlemen had taken advantage to mop up harvest so that they would resell at exorbitant rate by April next year.
However, a big time farmer, Vitalis Tarnongu, differed in his beniseed farming experience this year as he lamented that about 95 percent of his harvest did not turn out as expected.
Tarnongu blamed his bad harvest to early rainfall and insect infestation which he said ruined his harvest.
"Insect infestation was my major problem. How to tackle it has become a nightmare," he said.
For another farmer in Otukpo, Mrs. Margaret Onu, her harvest is still in progress and that it did not seem as good as expected.
She said buyers were already making advances to mop her harvest at the cost of N30,000 per 100kg bag, stressing that the poor harvest experienced last year formed her decision to cultivate less this year.
However, the Chairman of Beniseed Farmers and Sellers Association, Iordye Charles, has lamented this year's harvest, saying that the season was not good for them.
"Our farmers planted the crop late and the rain caught up with them. We didn't have good harvest as expected, especially with the appearance of army worms and aflatoxin which disturbed early germination of the crop as well as early stoppage of rain," he said.
Charles said there was no doubt that buyers were manipulating farmers at the market and purchasing the produce at the cost of N30,000 for the unclean 100kg per bag while the one referred to as clean sold for between N36,000 and N37,000 per 100kg bag.