Bumper harvest excites Benue Farmers

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Yam farmers in Benue State are excited over bumper harvest across most locations in the 23 local government areas of the state, this season.

However, despite the bountiful harvest, new yams are not yet plenty in the markets even as prices of available ones remain on the high side, beyond the reach of some consumers.

 100 tubers of medium sized yam were sold for between N35,000 and N40,000 at the Zaki Biam International market in Ukum LGA during the week while bigger sizes went for between N55,000 and N70,000.

At Wadata market in Makurdi, the state capital, 10 tubers of medium sized yams went for N5,500 while 100 tubers of small sizes sold for N53,000.

A trader, Bella Tule, said that the new yams harvested in Benue were not much in the market yet and she has been dealing with Onitsha yam which will soon give way for the home-grown ones.

Tule said that the new yams were still very costly compared to the amount it sold in September last year, attributing the high cost to the general increase in prices of food items in the markets.

For Rosario Orsar, a consumer, the prices of new yam, no matter the species, are exorbitant compared to same time last year.

She said just one kilogram of yam cost her between N1,500 and N2,000 while at this time last year, she bought the same quantity for between N600 and N800.

Similarly, another consumer, Fanny Anagende, posited that the prices of yam this season were extremely high when compared to this time last year.

Anagende said she just bought 10 tubers of medium sized yams for N5,000 as against last year when it was sold for between N2,000 and N3,000.

“Ordinarily, new yam is not supposed to be expensive because harvest helps to force down prices of food commodities. But, this year, new yam is very expensive,” she said.

Corroborating what the respondents said, some of the farmers, who spoke to our correspondent in Makurdi, attributed the high cost of new yam to increasing number of displaced farmers across the state.

A farmer in Gboko area of the state, Titus Atondo, who expressed satisfaction with the bountiful outcome from his three hectares of yam farm, said the pattern of rainfall this year contributed to the good turn over.

He, however, lamented that the reason behind the high cost of the new yam was because majority of the farming population are holed up at the Internally Displaced Peoples’ (IDPs) camps.

“Most of the farmers couldn’t go to their farms to grow any crop. Only few were able to produce food and that’s why the price of new yam went up this season.

“But, I had a bountiful harvest far better than previous years. My yams are very big in sizes. The rainfall pattern was quite timely this year; it would rain awhile, cease and begin again. That was good for yam because it doesn’t like too much rainfall,” Atondo added.

Also, a few other farmers in Otukpo area of the state were happy that they had bountiful harvest and looking forward to generating more income following the present high demand for yam in the market.

For some of these farmers, they wouldn’t be bringing home their produce yet until in December despite the hike in prices of yam in the markets across the state, thereby, creating opportunity for farmers to sell their produce (yam) at an exorbitant rate.

However, while the farmers/dealers smile to the banks, the buyers and consumers are lamenting the hike in prices of the different varieties of yam purchased at the various markets.

Jeccinta Adakole blames the hike in prices of the yam on costs of herbicides and other farm inputs as she stressed that the little dry spell experienced in Benue State between July and August this year, largely affected the yields outcome as well.

“This year, I bought herbicides very costly. My harvest so far turned out well and like every other year, I’m looking forward to making profit as a result of the high cost of yam, coupled with the higher demand for the produce in the market now,” she posited.

On her part, the chairman of Yam Farmers Association in Benue State, Mrs. Scholastica Amua, said she personally had a good harvest but that there were complaints from some locations across the state that their harvest were not as good as hers.

She said, “My harvest has been very good so far. But the cost of inputs this year was very high, however my yield turned out well.

“From the reports I’m getting from some other places, their harvest wasn’t so good as previous years. And that was because of the shortage of rain in July and early August, this year.

 

source Daily Trust

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