By Isaiah Eka
Uyo, Nov. 5, 2020 The Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in Akwa Ibom, Mr Bassey Inwang, says increased planting of food crops is the sure way to end food insecurity in the country.
Inwang made this known in an interview with Newsmen in Uyo on Thursday.
He said that food crops production was a short term investment in agriculture as against cash crops production which was long term.
He said that food crops production such as cassava, vegetables, cucumbers, maize, tomatoes and others would yield fruits within three to six months, adding that an increased production would ensure adequate food production.
“So, when farmers go into cash crops production, we have to stay for a longer period for the investment to mature, while the food crops for instance, we are planting vegetables, cucumbers, maize, tomatoes and within two to three months, we will start harvesting them.
“While improved maize grains give you two months maturity, which you harvest and get your money and you will likely go back to planting again and make more.
“It is very simple for us to plant maize three times in a year because every three months you harvest them, you have a good market and also replant.
“For food crops with this pandemic that we are going through, will at short period of time help in improving the economy,’’ Inwang said.
Inwang said that the state government had issued loans to farmers to cultivate vegetables, maize and cassava during this year’s planting season.
He said that each farmer received about N150, 000 to N1, 000, 000, depending on the size and type of farm.
“A lot of farmers have obtained interest free loan from the state government.
“In terms of vegetables, not less than 2, 500 vegetables farmers and about 4, 500 in the maize farmers and over 5, 500 in the cassava sector because we have to go out to their farms and inspect the farm before disbursement.
“No condition is really attached. When your farm is certified, you pick the form and a guarantor signs for you, in case you don’t pay back the loan, it will be deducted from the salary of your guarantor.
“People have gotten about N150, 000 and up to N1, 000, 000 depending on the size of the farm,’’ he said.
The AFAN chairman told NAN that farmers in the state were also able to access farm inputs from the state government.
He said that improved cassava cuttings, rice seedlings and maize grains were distributed to farmers to ensure bumper harvest.
Inwang commended the state government for distributing farm inputs and appealed for the provision of farm machineries to aid the farmers during cultivation and land clearing.
He expressed displeasure at the high cost of foodstuffs in the market, in spite of government assistance to farmers and attributed the increase to activities of middlemen, who did not allow farmers to bring food produce to the market directly.