Following the decision of President Bola Tinubu to remove the subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit, and the unification of the foreign exchange market by the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation of Nigeria, has urged the Federal Government for inclusion in the palliative measures being distributed across the country.
The President of the female farmers, Mary Afan, lamented that it was no longer news that the prices of transportation, food prices, goods and services had increased.
Afan, at a press briefing in Abuja on Tuesday, cried out that smallholder farmers had been forced to reduce the size of their farmlands due to the high cost of input and transportation.
The farmers’ association requested that the Federal Government should provide immediate palliative measures, improved seeds and farm input for dry season farming; targeted transportation subsidies to smallholders; support for climate-smart agriculture; market access enhancement; and improved agricultural funding amongst other things.
She said, “While we acknowledge the move of the federal and state governments to provide palliatives for citizens as succour for these very challenging times, we are deeply concerned that there is no strategy or framework in place to capture farmers, especially women farmers in the distribution of palliatives. Most worrisome is that there seem to be no palliative measures such as inputs, improved seedlings and seeds to encourage farmers to increase production.
“Sadly, the removal of fuel subsidy and other government policies have brought forth significant challenges for our nation’s agriculture and drive for food security. The ensuing rise in the cost of farm inputs and transportation has had profound implications, particularly on smallholder women farmers who are the backbone of our agricultural industry.”
Afan further noted that the removal of fuel subsidy which has led to an undeniable increase in transportation costs, is unduly affecting the livelihoods of smallholder farmers who rely on affordable means of transportation to move their produce from the farms to the market.
The SWOFON president added, “In the wake of the impact of this policy direction of the government, farmers, in general, have been unable to access farm inputs such as fertilizers, seedlings, and agrochemicals which are usually sold in urban and semi-urban areas. The movement to markets has been difficult. Processing of farm produce especially those that require petrol-powered engines has also been paralyzed by this policy direction.
“Similarly, this new reality is further compounding the woes of smallholder women farmers in Nigeria who are still grappling with the high cost of fertilizers and other agricultural inputs whose prices has since become exorbitant following the Russia and Ukraine war. Consequently, the new policy move of the federal government has also severely affected the prices of farm inputs, causing them to become even furthermore exorbitant.
“Since the announcement by Mr. President, the average cost of farm inputs has risen by 71%. Farm labor cost has also risen by 149% not forgetting transportation cost that has risen by over 130%.”
Similarly, the Vice President of the association, Grace Disa said farmers were witnessing a challenge that requires the prompt attention of the federal and state governments.
Disa noted that if the issues were left unaddressed, the increased burden on us the farmers could lead to food insecurity, severe nutritional deficiencies, high poverty levels, and a further decline in farmers’ already challenging economic situation.
She stated, “For example, before the kick-off of the new policy regime, farmers pay between N800 to N1200 from their farms to the market. Now we pay N2000 to N2500. The cost of fertilizer (Urea and NPK)at the market now sells for 28,000 and 35,000 respectively which was sold for 17,000 and 30,000 before the policy of the government set in.
“As an umbrella body for smallholder women farmers in Nigeria, we have received and keep receiving reports of the challenges smallholder women farmers are facing in their various states. While many small-scale agricultural ventures have closed up, many more smallholder farmers are on the verge of losing their livelihood.
“Aside from the impact of the petrol subsidy removal, the effect of climate change has posed an imminent threat to food production and consumption in Nigeria.
“Smallholder women farmers are unduly affected by the adverse impacts of climate change, such as erratic rainfall, extreme temperatures, and flooding. This further compound the difficulties women farmers face due to the subsidy removal, making it imperative for the government to adopt resilient and climate-smart agricultural practices and roll-out of interventions.”
“For Nigeria to be food secure, we must work in synergy and support the frontline officers (women farmers) who are working tirelessly to ensure that there is food on our table. We must consider the farmers in the planning and design of program and deliberately target them during interventions. Our slogan says it all – No farmer, No food on the table, no nation. “