Nigeria will kill you: AGONIES OF A FARMER

Ubani Dannie writes...

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Nigeria is rich. Yea. Very rich in graves. Not just only with graves of victims of banditry and ethno-religious fanaticism. She is rich in the graves of hopes, dreams, enterprenuership, aspirations, talents and such other factors whose survival would have made her truly rich.

Nigeria and her leadership will kill you but gradually. Gradually but steadily, Nigeria will asphyxiate you. Like a sedated person before you can know it, she has murdered your dreams and dash your hope. What a country!!

For a proper understanding of the purpose of this post, let me start by saying that I am farmer. I wilfully embraced farming at the expense of very many other seemingly easier and rosier choices. My love for nature, the need to be my own boss and work at my pace and conditions are some of the reasons to informed my passion for and subsequent choice of farming.

In addition to other branches of farming, I major in poultry, piggery and fishery. Presently, I have 11,000 point-of-lay layers which is conservatively projected to be giving me 350 crates of egg daily; more than 400 pigs of different sizes.

My 99,000 capacity fish pond is lying fallow because of high cost of foreign feed while my fully automated feed mill is wasting away by inactivity as occasioned by non-availability and high cost of raw materials. As heart-rending and frustrating as this could be, this is not the bad news.

The bad news is that government insensitivity and policy somersaults is at the verge of suffocating life out of this venture which I built over the last seven years with my sweat and blood. For instance, I have lost more than 40 piglets in the last one week. My layers which have started laying up to 110 crates of egg daily have drastically reduced their daily egg production to less than 70 crates. Why? Malnutrition!!!

At the surface, a casual analyst may wonder what the government has got to do on how I feed my livestock. Some may even dismiss my venture as purely a private business whose success or failure depends largely on proper planning or lack of it on my side. But how true is this?

Proper nutrition is the life of every living organism especially, livestock. These animals depend largely on corn for their daily feed. January this year, I bought 3 trailer loads of corn from the North at the cost of 3.3 million naira each. Each truck had 300 bags of 100KG bag of corn. Mathematically what this entailed is that each bag cost me 11,000.

I have been leveraging on these 900 bags of corn to produce feed for the daily feed requirement of my livestock. I exhausted my stock in June but couldn’t restock immediately as the price of corn has skyrocketed to 18,000 per bag. I hadn’t such money anywhere. Therefore, I resorted to buying feed from feed dealers at about 3,100 per bag. The quality of the feed in the market is always lower than the quality I was producing for my livestock but the advantage is that it afforded me the benefit of buying in piecemeal in accordance with my budget. Today, that bag of feed that sold at 3,100 some two months ago is almost 4000. That is how stable our economy is.

Today, that same 100KG bag of corn that I bought at the cost of 11,000 in January, that I couldn’t afford in June when it was selling at 18,000 is now 31,000!!! Almost 200% increase!!!! Yet, a crate of egg that was selling 900 at the farm in January is still 900 today!!! A 60KG pig that sold for 30,000 in January is still selling at the same cost today!!!!

Now, the government has banned the importation of corn but what are the measures of mitigating the huge gap between our local production capacity and the daily feed-producing consumption? You shut down importation of maize by the feed millers but you are creating oligarpolies by granting exclusive waivers to foreign-owned feed millers to import the same maize from their countries to sell to poor livestock farmers like us at cut-throat prices.

As if this is not enough, the government has almost doubled my daily cost of running generator to pump water for the livestock with the present hike in the pump price of fuel.

How then can you plan and project with anything near accuracy under such unpredictable economy?

Forget all these touted government interventions policies. They are all audio. Federal Government said it has disbursed 65 billion to corn farmers but show me any corn farmer you know that received a part of it. Federal Ministry of Agriculture claims to have intervened with another 600 billion but all na audio. We have heard another 500 billion CBN intervention but it is still audio money. Even those who are connected enough to access the CBN intervention fund end up signing in for 13% repayment interest as against the touted 9% with a moratorium period of 6 months!! Six months moratorium for agriculture!!!! What a huge joke!!!!!

Such is the challenge of many a farmer. The government keeps hyping and impressing it on the youths to embrace agriculture but the issue is what concrete efforts are being made by the government in this direction beyond mere verbal rhetorics that are not even mouth-deep.

Like this morning, I woke up with my heart thumbing hard and racing fast – where and how am I going to feed my livestock this morning? Nothing pierces the heart of a farmer than seeing his livestock starving to death. Well, I don’t know how but one thing is sure – GOD NO GO SHAME OUR HUSTLE.

– Ord Ezemuo.

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