NIGERIA – Potato farmers in Nigeria aiming to plant early this season have been forced to alter their budget following the high cost of Irish potato seeds.

Malam Umar Kanawa, a farmer, said there was a plan by most of the irrigation farmers to take off early this year, but the surging cost of seed has slowed them down.

Most farmers prefer the early planting season given the prospective advantage of their crop passing through the cold season of November, December, and January for a better yield.

This year, however, the increased cost of seeds coupled with lack of capital is their major setback, especially with the current economic hardship in the country. They source their potato seed from Plateau State and this year, the produce seems scarce and costly.

“By this time last year, we bought a 100kg bag for N50,000 (USD 62.30) to N55,000(71.70) but last week, we paid N70,000(USD 91.70). That is why many of us are yet to plant, because we are re-strategizing,” explained Kanawa.

He further added that high food demand has made potato farming a promising venture this year, which is why they can’t change to other crops like tomatoes.

“High cost of living has made people to look for alternative food items, and the crop requires to be watered only 10 times at an interval of one week in its three months life span; therefore, its production consumes less fuel than tomato,” said Malam Kabir Kanawa.

Alhaji Nafi’u Idris, Sarkin Dankali Bakori, said the produce was scarce in Plateau State and sourcing the seeds has become a herculean task.

Nigeria, however,  is making strides in farming, particularly with potatoes to enhance resilience and climate adaptability.

Recently, the Nigerian Potato Seed Safety Partnership (NPSSP) launched four new potato varieties that are resistant to late blight disease and tailored for Nigeria’s climate.

These new breeds are a breakthrough not only for the country but also for agriculture around the world. 

The new varieties ensure quality seed potatoes for the local market and are expected to boost both the economy and food security in the country.

Teaming up with the Nigerian National Research Institute of Root Crops (NRCRI) and Fruit and Veggies Global Ltd., NPSSP secured permission to distribute four varieties: Unica, Juriya, Babban, and Kyau by the end of June.

Dr. Egesi of NRCRI stated, “These potatoes are special. They produce well, and resist diseases and heat, making them perfect for Nigeria.” 

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