Decades ago, coffee was a valuable crop in Jos, and many smallholder farmers were in production, but for many reasons, many of the farmers have now abandoned the production. Coffee plantations were converted to vegetable farming and other crops that give quick returns because the cost of production is pretty much higher than that of vegetables. Besides, the cost of production, getting suitable and profitable markets for the coffee they produced became the last straw that broke the camel’s back in Chaha, a Plateau community known for massive coffee farming. The collapse of coffee gave rise to the production of strawberry, carrots, lactose and cabbage, with shorter maturity periods in the area.
Mr Joseph Dung Dalyop, the village Head of Chaha, who had been a coffee farmer, told Daily Trust that farmers like him have abandoned coffee because the market was not encouraging, and many farmers became poor instead of making more money. He believes the lack of robust federal government policy for sustainable production is partially responsible for the decline in the production of the crop, which makes nations like Ethiopia notable.
At one of the few surviving coffee plantations in the area, Mr Choji Pam, a member of a group of farmers maintaining the plantation, said the cost of keeping the plantation is huge and the output is very little. Joseph said the plantation needs about 200 trucks of manure to keep the trees productive, with a truck costing N13, 000, which means the farm needs N2.6million for fertilizer alone besides other cost variables. The cost is even higher if modern fertilizer is used. At the moment, the farm produces just about five bags of coffee which is less than 5% of what used to come out of it and the only buyer is an individual in Jos. Although abandoned for years, the farmers said they were making efforts to resuscitate the farm as other fruits like avocado and banana were intercropped. The farmers hope for a better future, but until that happens, coffee production will remain a historical relic for the future generations of communities where it was once a cash crop.
SOURCE: DAILY TRUST