Concerns Mount Over Expensive Seeds for Irish Potato Farmers in Katsina, Nigeria

Irrigation farmers in Katsina State are expressing their dissatisfaction with the expensive Irish Potato seeds, which has impacted their planting plans.

Early planting has its advantages, as crops can withstand the cold season of November, December, and January for better yields.

Malam Umar Kanawa, a farmer, stated that many irrigation farmers intended to start early this year, but the high cost of seeds has delayed them.

“Lack of capital is our major setback, especially given the current economic hardship in the country. We obtain our potato seeds from Plateau State, but this year they seem scarce and costly. By this time last year, we could buy a 100kg bag for N50,000 to N55,000, but last week we had to pay N70,000. That’s why many of us haven’t planted yet; we are re-strategizing,” he said.

Kanawa, however, mentioned that the high demand for food has made potato farming a lucrative venture this year, preventing farmers from switching to other crops like tomatoes.

“Due to the high cost of living, people are searching for alternative food items. Potatoes only need to be watered ten times over the course of three months, requiring less fuel compared to tomatoes,” said Malam Kabir Kanawa.

Alhaji Nafi’u Idris, Sarkin Dankali Bakori, admitted that finding the seeds has become a challenging task, as the produce is scarce in Plateau State.

“Considering the scarcity of the produce in Plateau State, one can say the price of the seed has started on a good note. There are areas we dare not go because of insecurity. The produce is acutely scarce as some farmers in Riyom and Bokkos have withheld the seeds for their use,” Nafi’u Idris explained.

He advised Katsina State farmers to make use of the seeds available, as they may become even more scarce in the market.

Last week, the media reported that scarcity and high prices of Irish potatoes in Plateau State were caused by potato fungus called blight, unavailability of the necessary pesticide, farmers’ limited access to fertilizers, and insecurity leading to loss of lives, destruction of farmlands, and properties.

Another farmer in the state, Salisu Namairo, argued that farmers should not solely rely on seeds from Plateau State.

“Since we consider Irish Potato production as a business, we should find ways to select and preserve our seeds to avoid being caught off guard. Farmers can select seeds from their own harvest and preserve them in a well-ventilated space before the next planting season,” Namairo suggested.

Namairo noted that the high cost of living and the prevailing insecurity in the country were reasons enough for farmers to find solutions to their farming challenges.

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