Fertilizer prices have been rising over the past six months and farmers are extremely worried.
The product, which sold for between 11,000 and 16,000 Naira in January this year, just five months ago, now costs between 24,000 and 30,000 Naira, depending on the type and location.
Although the problem is not specific to Nigeria as it is a global phenomenon, the situation in the country is seen by many as a snowball in complications and is pushing many farmers to the limit.
In many places, farmers cannot harvest anything without applying fertilizer, especially in areas where soil fertility has been depleted to an unfortunate extent.
At present, farmers are faced with difficult options, the supply of cow dung and chicken excrement, which are also threatened by the closure of many poultry farms.
Reports from different parts of the country indicate that fertilizer prices are increasing significantly; and many predict a further rise in the coming months.
In the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and its surrounding communities in Nasarawa and Niger states, prices of urea-based fertilizers and the three main brands in circulation (Indorama, Dangote and Notore) range from 19,000 N to 25,000 N.
NPK fertilizer is even more expensive. Its 15:15:15 mix, for example, costs up to N30,000 per 50kg bag, depending on the brand. The FG mix, 20:10:10, which was set at 5,500 N, is now above 14,000 N and is not generally available to many farmers.
In Kano State, the price of fertilizer has risen dramatically and many farmers have expressed concern that wet season farming will be very difficult for many farmers in the state.
A survey of fertilizer prices in the state revealed that Indorama urea is now selling at N22,000 compared to its initial price of N12,000 last year, Dangote urea is now at N19,000 from its original price of N9,000, while Waraka Urea is now selling at N25,000 instead of N16,000 last year.
Similarly, Nagari’s NPK 15:15:15 is now N24,500 vs. N12,000, Golden Penny’s NPK 20:10;10 is selling at N25,000 vs. N13,000, while Kasco’s NPK 20:10 :10 sells for N15,000 against N9,500.
According to a farmer from Bagwai Local Government Area, Malam Danladi Balarabe, many farmers have already resorted to using local manure and other substitutes like potash and salt. He explained that not all farmers could afford the fertilizer needs this year.
Another farmer from Kiru local government area, Aliyu Buba, said he and other farmers are considering using newly introduced liquid manure as a fertilizer substitute. He explained that a company had introduced liquid manure being upgraded and it is cheaper than fertilizer, adding that he and his friends decided to try it this rainy season as they did not have the means to buy fertilizer.
In Niger state, our correspondent reports that the high cost of inorganic fertilizers has prompted farmers across the state to adopt alternative measures, including the use of organic fertilizers on their farms.
Survey by Daily Trust on Sunday revealed that while NPK fertilizers cost N26,000, urea costs between N20,000 and 21,000.
The cheapest fertilizer was blended, which Alhaji Abdullahi, a dealer, said sold for 15,000 naira. He said the patronage of NPK and urea had been very weak this rainy season.
One farmer, Mohammad Umar, told our correspondent that he had adopted organic fertilizers, particularly from garbage dumps, for his yam and maize while pondering the idea of using it for his rice cultivation.
“I use organic fertilizers. What I do is find where there are piles of dumps and clean up the solid materials such as leathers and plastics that don’t break down, tamp the soil and spread it on my farm before doing any mounds. I used it for the yam I planted, and I want to do the same for the ones I’m going to plant. I haven’t bought modern fertilizers this rainy season and I don’t plan to because it’s too expensive,” he said.
Umar called on the government to identify genuine and real farmers and help them with inputs especially fertilizers at a subsidized rate.
However, Adamu Aliyu, a farmer from Katcha in the Katcha local government area of the state, said he used poultry drips as an alternative to inorganic fertilizers due to their high cost.
“I diversified to minimize the cost of purchasing fertilizers. I use poultry drops. But the problem is the availability in large quantities. We have to follow the poultry farmers to buy the drops, which cost us less. It used to be 2,500 naira per 100kg bag, but with the current high demand, the price has gone up slightly,” he said.
Another farmer from Gbako local government area, Muhammad Muhammad, said the cheapest alternative they adopted was the use of landfills.
“Besides the high cost of fertilizers, they are not as good as they used to be. Even if you apply them on the crops, they do not give well as we have witnessed. Thus, the quality of fertilizers has also decreased, apart from the cost.
“But with N10,000 you will hire a van which will help you pack landfills which will cover a large area of land instead of buying a bag of fertilizer which costs N22,000 or N25,000.
“The manure is usually spread on the farm before making ridges. And they improve the yield capacity of millet, groundnut and other crops,” he said.
A poultry farmer, Suleiman Mohammed, confirmed to our correspondent that a 100kg bag of poultry is sold for 3,000 naira.
“The demand is even higher than the supply because farmers would have to book for the drop before they get supplies when they are available. You can’t just come in and say you want to buy and get it straight away. Many farmers pay in advance,” he said.
He said some people have also engaged in buying and reselling poultry drops to end users.
Farmers in Plateau State have expressed concern over rising fertilizer prices, saying it is affecting them in several ways, adding that they continue their farming activities under stress.
John Ajiji, who farms in north and east Jos, said rising fertilizer prices had prompted him to cut back as he could no longer afford what he used to buy.
He said he used to buy 10 bags each season, but now he can barely afford five bags.
Ajiji said they were now buying NPK at 28,000 Naira per bag, while Urea was at 21,000 Naira per bag, and he could barely afford to buy.
He said that to afford the amount of fertilizer needed on his farms, he would have to spend over 100,000 naira.
He called on the government to make fertilizers available, affordable and accessible to farmers as it is the foundation of agriculture, which remains the main and single most secure channel of food availability in the country.