Wheat farmers in Kano State have expressed fear that the state may experience shortage of wheat this year due to issues attributed to water availability and lateness in disbursing and accessing the intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) under the Anchor Borrowers scheme. Investigation by our correspondent in the state revealed that for a very long time, wheat farmers have been complaining that they were left with no intervention, aside what is being provided by the Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), an organisation that has the mandate on wheat. According to Bahago Bello Gafan, a wheat farmer at Gafan village in Garun Malan Local Government Area, for the past three years, farmers in the state have been sourcing their seeds as certified seeds were not made available to them by relevant authorities. “There was a time seeds were provided for farmers by wheat millers. That was before the enrolment of wheat in the Anchor Borrowers scheme, but even at that, late disbursement has been our major plight because wheat has a planting calendar that must be adhered to,” he said.
Sometime in September last year, wheat farmers in the state, under the Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria (WFAN), lamented over the lateness in the disbursement and accessing of Anchor Borrowers inputs, which the association said had been affecting wheat production. The national president of the WFAN, Alhaji Salim Muhammad, made this known during the 2019 pre-season training workshop for irrigated wheat and the launch of 2019/2020 wheat farming season, organised for wheat farmers in Kano by the Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), in collaboration with other relevant agencies. According Muhammad, wheat has a timeframe that each farmer needs to take into consideration. He added that any delay in meeting with the planting period would amount to low yield or total loss of produce.
He said it was unfortunate that even with the enrolment of wheat farmers into the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers intervention scheme, wheat farmers still experienced difficulties due to late access to impute disbursement by the scheme. “We have to call on all the authorities concerned, that as a matter of urgency, they should ensure that all interventions meant for wheat farmers reach them in good time, or we will continue to operate on little or no gain at all,’’ Muhammad lamented. However, there were series of interventions in wheat production lately, one of which is the adoption of the newly introduced technology that involves techniques in the use of a machine that ridges and plants at the same time. The method is said to prevent the damages that usually occur in wheat farms as a result of too much water. The newly adopted technology is also assumed to be a catalyst that would put wheat farmers’ predicaments this season to an end. According to the zonal coordinator, Technology for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT), Professor Ibrahim Umar Abubakar, the newly adopted techniques have been demonstrated to farmers in selected farms for them to see its efficacy. He added that the techniques adopted from Egypt had the capability to increase wheat yield per hectare as against what was obtainable using the previous techniques, which he said produced little to the farmer. Wheat farm at Gafan of Garun Malam LGA More reasons wheat production may be affected Some farmers believe that wheat production may be less this year because, just as its planting season was about to commence, water supply was blocked at the Kadawa irrigation site, which serves as the nerve centre of production in Kano State. Though the custodians of the waterways, Hadejia Jama’are River Basin Development Authority had issued an announcement on the dredging of the canals, which resulted in the blockage of the waterways, many farmers see the move as wrongly timed as it coincided with planting calendar. Investigation had also revealed that the LCRI had to relocate hectares of its demonstration farms in the Kadawa irrigation site to Kaduna State because of the blockage of the waterways. According to many farmers, that has affected wheat production in the area. It was also revealed that the blockage had tampered with the planting calendar of wheat, which made many farmers in that axis not to plant the crop. It was further discovered that about 60per cent of wheat farmers at the irrigation site did not plant, and those who did experienced issues.
According to Alhaji Musa Dan Bala Garun Babba, those who took the risk of planting wheat despite the water shortage witnessed stunted growth and other issues. “Many of us decided not to plant wheat because the water was released mid December; and we all know that the best time to plant wheat is between October and November. However, some of us had taken the risk and planted, but the shortage of water had an adverse effect on the plantation. Nevertheless, with the extension of the cold weather, perhaps they may gain more than expected. But the truth is that Kano may experience shortage of wheat this year,” he said. However, at the Bagwai irrigation site, wheat farmers have not experienced any hitch as the water shortage did not affect them. According to Alhaji Danliti Bichi, wheat farmers in the area are expecting a bumper harvest as they operated in a favourable weather and climate. “Although our wheat production is not that much, in this axis there’s no challenge this year. Despite the fact that many of us did not receive any form of intervention from government, we are expecting a bumper harvest. Expectedly, the hravest would double next year,” he said.
SOURCE: DAILY TRUST