Katsina — Irrigation farmers in Katsina State have expressed concerns over the shutdown of markets in cities like Lagos, Abuja, Ogun, Kaduna and Kano at the peak of the dry season tomato harvest.
The development, according to the farmers, is threatening the market price of the produce in the state.
Shu'aibu Sani, a tomato farmer in Danja Local Government Area, said their tomatoes were fast ripening in the farms, but that there were no trucks to convey them to the available markets.
"We are in the prime time of harvesting our produce, but the unfortunate development has thrown a spanner in our wheels. The tomato is fast ripening while the merchants are skeptical to invest their money to purchase it without clear understanding of the market situation down South," he noted.
Another farmer, Babangida Ibrahim, said the shutdown, if prolonged, would severely affect the forthcoming wet season farming activities.
"Farmers rely on demand for their produce, and when the markets are shut, they hardly realise the money to invest in the forthcoming season. The shutdown will also restrict the free movement of labour which large scale farmers, especially, rely on to produce the crops," said Ibrahim.
He further enjoined farmers to strategise and adapt to the challenging situation so that they would remain productive.
Meanwhile, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation has hit grocery shops in the state.
This reporter went round Funtua and its environs and discovered that prices of food items such as oil, rice, spaghetti and couscous have risen.
Salisu Musa, a resident of Funtua, said some traders wanted to cash in on the misfortune of COVID-19 through unjustifiable increases in prices of food items.
"We know the shutdown will occasion inflation, but not as soon as after only two days. Some of the traders are eager to make humongous profit, hence the sudden increases in prices of the goods on their shelves," he said.
Some traders contacted by this reporter declined to comment on the allegation.