KANO, Nigeria – Irrigation farmers in Nigeria, particularly in the northern region, are facing mounting challenges as the skyrocketing prices of petrol and diesel threaten their livelihoods. The increase in fuel costs has significantly impacted their ability to maintain irrigation systems during the dry season, leading to growing concerns over food production and economic stability. One farmer in Kano, Nigeria, is emblematic of this struggle as he fights to maintain his tomato crop.
Musa Ahmed, a 42-year-old dry season farmer in the outskirts of Kano, has been cultivating tomatoes for over a decade. Traditionally, dry season farming in this region relies heavily on irrigation systems to provide a steady supply of water to crops. However, with the recent surge in petrol and diesel prices, Musa Ahmed, like many others, has been forced to make difficult choices that affect both his family and his crops.
Ahmed’s irrigation system, which is powered by a diesel pump, used to be the lifeline of his tomato farm. With access to a reliable source of water, he could cultivate his crops throughout the year, ensuring a steady income for his family. However, the increasing cost of diesel has forced him to reconsider his farming practices.
“I used to run my pump for hours each day to ensure my tomato plants received the water they needed. But with the rising cost of diesel, I can’t afford to operate it as often as I used to,” Ahmed said, with a deep sense of concern in his eyes.
The price of petrol and diesel in Nigeria has been on an upward trajectory after Nigeria’s President suddenly removed fuel subsidy. The devaluation of the naira is also expected to further increase the prices of diesel and petrol. The impact on farmers like Musa Ahmed has been devastating, as they are faced with the challenge of either cutting back on their irrigation practices, reducing the size of their farms, or passing on the increased costs to consumers.
The consequences are not limited to the farmers alone. Ahmed’s tomatoes used to be a crucial component of the local market, contributing to the livelihoods of many people in the community. The increasing scarcity of water and the resulting reduction in his tomato yield may lead to higher prices for consumers, putting additional pressure on local households.
“Tomatoes are a staple in our community, and we depend on them for various dishes. If prices continue to rise, it will be challenging for many of us to afford this essential ingredient,” said Amina Bello, a resident of Kano.
Moneyamebo spoke with Ayo Akinfolarin, the CEO of Veggie Concept, an irrigation and agricultural advisory firm, he explained that the recent hike in the prices of petroleum products had negatively impacted dry season farmers. He explained that Nigeria may experience reduced food production and food inflation in a couple of weeks.
Local agricultural organizations and government authorities are aware of the situation and are looking for ways to assist farmers like Musa Ahmed. Initiatives to encourage farmers to use gas instead of petrol and diesel for agricultural purposes and invest in renewable energy solutions for irrigation are being considered. However, a long-term solution to address the challenges faced by irrigation farmers remains a pressing issue.
As the debate over fuel pricing continues, farmers like Musa Ahmed are left grappling with uncertainty about their future. The ability to maintain irrigation systems and sustain their livelihoods hinges on finding a sustainable solution to the soaring cost of petrol and diesel.