Since the beginning of time, Plateau State has been recognised as the nation’s top producer of Irish potatoes, and many farmers grow it alongside other crops.
When looking for potatoes in bulk at a discount, people from all over the nation look to the state.
This suggests that the tuberous vegetable is more affordable on the Plateau than it is elsewhere in the nation. In the state, it is more widely used and accessible.
Every year, whether during the rainy season or dry season farming employing the irrigation method, farmers report abundant crops.
However, the harvest is so limited at this time that even when it is offered, it is sold for an astronomical price.
Farmers have had to cry out at times throughout the years when the crop has faced difficulties.
Some of the difficulties included the blight fungus, which destroyed the crop and prevented healthy germination in potatoes. Other issues included a shortage of quality seedlings, a lack of access to fertilisers to feed the farm’s crop, and a lack of insecticides to fight the disease.
However, the crop is currently expensive and also not as easily available as it ought to be. The farmers discussed the issue and explained what might be the explanation.
Those who spoke with our correspondent noted the difficulties previously mentioned, one of which has occasionally been sowing the crop. But in addition to that, other elements have also been identified as contributing to the crop’s scarcity and high price.
According to Irish potato farmer Nyam Michael in Jos, the state’s capital, insecurity and violence in some areas of the state are to blame for the current shortage, which has caused property and fields to be destroyed as well as lives to be lost.
The farmer claimed that the crisis had a significant impact on them. He stated that Bokkos and Mangu, two local government districts where the crop is primarily grown, were affected by the state’s revival of violence this year, and also, that the crisis occurred during the cultivation season.
He claimed that as a result, potato output was hindered. As a result, there has been a significant decrease in farmers working to grow the crop.
He claimed that the country’s economic difficulties are yet another factor contributing to the shortage and high price of Irish potatoes.
The widespread suffering, in Michael’s opinion, has also resulted in high costs for the meagre resources that low-income farmers have available to them to invest in their farming operations.
He emphasised that estimates indicate that the price might increase to N50,000 between now and December. He noted that a 50kg bag of the crop was sold for between N25,000 and N30,000 last year, but that it is now being sold for N30,000 and higher.
He recommended the administration to keep up their efforts to increase Irish potato output and to find a solution to the problems of economic hardship and security that had prevented the growing of the crop this year.
According to Mrs. Atong James, a different farmer, many farmers decided against growing the crop during the wet season as a result of their previous experiences with the potato blight, which is currently being harvested.
She claims that because the blight disease mainly occurs during the rainy season rather than the dry season, this year’s farmers chose for dry season farming, which begins in October through November.
Farmers’ economic difficulties is another reason why many chose not to cultivate the crop this year, according to Mrs. James, a farmer in Jos’ Lamingo neighbourhood.
She claimed that some of those who farmed it this year only did it to produce seedlings rather than food, so they concealed their crop while they waited for the price of seedlings to rise in order to increase their profit.
According to her, a bag of potatoes cost N18,000 or slightly more last year, but this year (as of right now), the cost is N23,000 or more at marketplaces in the local government areas where they are grown.
But she said that the cost will undoubtedly go up once it was delivered to Jos, the state capital.
She claims that roughly two to three years ago, a bag could even be purchased for between N10,000 and N12,000 before steadily rising until this year, when other variables led to an outrageous price increase and a shortage.
Faruq Rabilu, a trader who buys the crop from Bokkos, Mangu, and Barkin Ladi among others and sells it in Jos, commented on the crop’s current pricing. He said the price rose due to factors that affected Irish potatoes this year.
Rabilu, who claimed to have been in the industry for more than four years and who sells the potatoes in the Jos neighbourhood of Farin Gada, as well as in Abuja and other states, claimed to have paid N28,000 for a bag.
After that, he claimed, he purchases fresh sacks to re-bag, sews the sacks, and pays for labour.
After that, he claimed to have brought them from the marketplaces. After all is said and done, he claims to sell for N33,000 per bag.
Rabilu attributed the crop’s expensive price to both its high production costs and the effects of the elimination of gasoline subsidies, which are hurting the general populace.