Tomato farmers in Kano State have urged the federal government to intervene in the crisis bedevilling the distribution of hybrid tomato seedlings to farmers by the Dangote farms under the Anchor Borrowers’ programme.
Sani Danladi-Yadakwari, the chairman of the state chapter of National Tomato Growers, Processors, and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NTGOMAN), made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Kano.
He said the call became necessary as only 452 out of the 10,000 registered tomato farmers under the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Anchor Borrowers’ Programme in the state have so far received the seedlings from Dangote Farms.
“As I speak to you, 452 out of the 10,000 farmers have been able to get the seedlings and once we get to the end of January, the seedlings will not produce fruits even if you plant them,” he said.
He said the Farm was paid over N1.5 billion on August 1, to enable it supply the seedlings to the farmers adding, however, that it was sad that not even one-third of the farmers had received the seedlings.
“Dangote Farms was paid N1.58 billion for the supply of the seedlings in August for 6,000 hectares which is the 60 per cent of the 10, 000 farmers as each farmer is expected to cultivate one hectare of tomatoes.
“Most of the farmers have spent lots of money in preparation for the commencement of the planting season while they are still waiting for the farms to supply them with the seedlings which have not been forthcoming,” he said.
Mr Danladi-Yadakwari, who expressed concern over the development, urged the Federal Government to prevail on Dangote Farms to rectify the problem so as not to dampen the morale of farmers who have already invested their money in the business.
He noted that if urgent steps were not taken on the problem, the hope of producing tomatoes in commercial quantities for processing companies might be a mirage.
“Less than one month to the round off of the planting season, only 452 farmers have received their seedlings, we hope that the Dangote Farms will concentrate on processing fresh tomatoes to allow somebody who can invest in procurement and distribution of the seedlings do so,” he said.
Reacting, the Managing Director of Dangote Farms, Abdulkarim Kaita, attributed the problem to late release of the money by the CBN pointing out that the seedlings and fertilisers have to be imported outside the country.
“When we import the materials we have to go for clearance at the ports and this have also contributed to the problem,” he said.
According to him, the company would continue to do its best in order to ensure that a reasonable number of farmers receive their seedlings between now and middle of January 2020 as agreed upon.
“We will suspend the distribution of seedlings in the middle of January so that those who get them can go ahead with the planting while those who don’t get can wait until next dry season,” Mr Kaita said.
NAN reports that many farmers have besieged the state headquarters of Tomato Farmers Association trying to find out reasons for persistent delay in the distribution of seedlings. (NAN)