The Secretary, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Lagos State chapter, Abimbola Fagoyinbo-Francis, has called on the federal government to urgently intervene in cassava farming in the country.
Mrs Fagoyinbo-Francis told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos that government intervention would help avert looming scarcity of the crop.
According to her, many farmers boycotted cassava cultivation in 2020, and this development could lead to scarcity of the produce.
She said the reason for the boycott was due to the huge losses recorded in 2019 by many farmers as a result of glut.
The AFAN scribe said that in 2019, many farmers went into cassava cultivation but there was no market, off-takers or government agencies to buy the produce, leading to excess production and glut.
She said that in the process, many farmers lost so much money that they decided to boycott it this season.
“Last year, I lost over N600,000 to cassava cultivation and I know many farmers that also lost their money to it.
“There (was) so much cassava production last year and buyers started buying them at a lower price and it resulted to shortage for many of our farmers.
“We sold a tonne of cassava for as low as N10,000, now it is being sold at N30,000 per tonne and it is not even available because farmers have boycotted it.
“Many farmers boycotted cassava cultivation this year due to fear of the unknown. They fear that what happened last year might happen again.
“Now, there is no cassava on the farms, it will take an average of nine months to harvest cassava,” she said.
Mrs Fagoyinbo-Francis called for urgent government intervention to avert the looming scarcity of cassava in the country.
She said that with the present situation, there might be shortage of cassava production this season because farmers do not want to have the same experience this year.
“There may not be enough cassava for garri, cassava flour and other food items. Even if cassava is available, it will be very expensive.
“Already, garri is not affordable now. Go to the market and see for yourself. It is no longer a cheap food anymore,” she said.
Mrs Fagoyinbo-Francis urged the federal government to provide support for small-holder farmers on land clearing and preparation to mitigate the effects of the boycott.
She said without funding and support from the government, farmers might continue to boycott cassava cultivation, thereby resulting into serious food shortage.
Mrs Fagoyinbo-Francis said very few farmers that had gone into cassava farming this season had spent a lot of money on land clearing and preparation.
She said that due to COVID-19, many farmers left their farms, adding that only few farmers actually cultivated cassava this year.
“Government needs to come in now and support cassava farmers through funding.
“This will affect the price of garri this year because there will be shortage of cassava to process into garri.
“I sold six tonnes for less than N100,000, it was a great loss to me.
“I know of a farmer that has spent over N370,000 for land preparation for cassava already this year, aside planting.
“How do you expect it not to be expensive, when you have spent so much on planting and it will take an average of nine months to harvest cassava.
“By end of 2020 and early next year, cassava will be very expensive and the only solution is government intervention,” Mrs Fagoyinbo-Francis said.