Farmers in Katsina State have intensified calls on government to support their businesses with funds and modern facilities to boost the nation’s economy. FarmingFarmersFarms reports that findings have shown that rising demand from major economies, climate and weather-related exhibitions, high oil prices, poor policies and unemployment among several other factors, have aided the economic meltdown in the state and making a lot of communities to be more vulnerable.
It is against this background that tomato farmers in Chinko Market, Danja local government area of Katsina state have expressed concern over the challenges facing their businesses, they said they are yet to receive any interventions from either the government or well-meaning individuals to boost the agribusiness despite the situation they are forced on. The people, who resorted to self-help for decades to survive on their own, feed their immediate families and pay both local, state and federal governments revenue promptly, saying their businesses have become more difficult due to the present situation in the nation.
Danja local government area and its environs depend on large farming production, mostly for commercial purposes, and due to its endowed rich fertility for agrarian practices, the land enticed over 125,740 inhabitants to cultivate maize, tomatoes, onions, rice and other foodstuffs in the nation. But the most concerns of these farmers and traders are on how to provide facilities and the enabling environment needed to process the food crops, especially those perishable items that need modern preservative facilities to enhance their businesses.
According to them, they only used the local method of preservation, which often takes time and difficult, reiterating that the government should assist them with enough processing centres to boost the business in the state. While speaking, the Secretary, Market Association of Chinko, Mallam Zakari Yakubu, lamented the situation of farmers and businessmen in the area, expressing that the only factory the state government had established was not sufficient to provide the needed services for the people in the area. He said, “Despite the small processing company government has established in Danja, the people are yet to receive any assistance from the government or any well-meaning individuals. The factory established has not been functioning properly. We want the government to help in reducing the waste of tomatoes in the business.”
Sami’u Alwali said he had been farming tomatoes for over 20 years, and the business had been profitable to him as he was able to build his house and feed his family. But the major challenge they are facing is the insufficient or lack of processing of the product because whenever they produced it in large quantities, they usually have difficulties with preservation. He added that their concerns are the waste and poor storage facility in the area, hence the need for concerned authorities to assist them.
“The processing machine that the government procured can only attempt to handle about 1,000 baskets of tomatoes in a day, and we are producing over 100,000 baskets in a day in this place. We want the government to expand the facility. We usually take this product to the East, South and Southwest of the country, but the lukewarm attitude of the government on the increasing fuel scarcity has also made life difficult for us farmers in the area, who regularly transport goods and services to some part of the country. We, therefore, call on the government to solve the high price of fuel in the country to make our lives better”, he said.
Similarly, some labourers, who work in the Chinko market every day to earn a living also appreciated the opportunity they got to survive the difficult situation the state and that of the country. Abdullahi Ibrahim and Abba Tase, who sliced tomatoes daily basis, said they used to make from N2,000 to N3,000 in a day. And with this amount, they feed and take care of their respective families. Tasi’u Abubakar, who is a renowned personality in the business of transporting tomatoes, also lamented the high cost of gas in Nigeria, causing them lots of losses. He explained, “You transport your goods and the profit always goes into the transport. Imagine, before we used to pay N300,000 to N400,000 and at most N600,000 on transportation, but now, it is doubled the price to over N1.7 million. The government should assist us and look into this challenge.
“Likewise, we have been paying revenues to the local, state and federal governments, but we have never received any intervention or assistance from the government in this area. On a daily basis, we used to load over 11 to 15 trucks with tomatoes in this market. Each truck, before leaving this market, must pay the local and the state government levies including the Federal Government revenues otherwise can’t be allowed to operate”, he added. The Katsina State governor, Aminu Masari, has established a Tomato Processing Company in the Danja local government area, saying it would boost irrigation farming in the state. According to him, the project was implemented through the Public Private Partnership (PPP), adding that the decision was part of efforts of his administration to boost irrigation, thereby creating job opportunities for the people. He assured that his government would continue to accord top priority to agriculture to enhance productivity, guarantee food security and prevent rural-urban drift in the state.