Farmers in border communities across the country are currently facing serious challenges over the suspension of fuel supply to filling stations domiciled at the borders, as directed by the Federal Government.
The development is not only affecting movement of farm produce to markets, it is also hampering their operations, as majority of them practicing mechanised farming have been redundant and helpless because there is no fuel to power their tractors.
On Wednesday, November 6, 2019, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) through a memo instructed its commands to ensure stoppage of petroleum products’ discharge, no matter the tank size to any filling station within 20 kilometers to the border.
Currently, the farming communities in Ogun-Idiroko, Ilashe, Idologun, Ilara, Imeko, Iwoye, Aafintedo, Idufe, Idi Ayin, Iga Baba Alado, Kofesu and Clement village, among others are feeling the pains.
The leader of farmers in Imeko-Afon Local Government Area, Chief Abdulazeez Ismail Abolore Adedayo, told The Guardian that a large chunk of their produce are rotting away in their respective farms, as they are finding it difficult to transport to markets.
While lamenting that the development is impacting the farmers negatively, especially those who obtained loans, he appealed to the Federal Government, members of the National Assembly and Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun to rescue them from the anti-masses policy.
A cassava farmer, Mr. Felix Afolabi, who cultivates over 150 hectares in Imeko said he is finding it difficult to get diesel for his tractors. “The problem has been worsened because we need to go far to get diesel, which is worsening the operations of the farmers. We are planning to start harvesting this week, but with this situation now, the cost of transportation will go up to between N170, 000 to N180, 000 for a truck, which was within the range of N120, 000 before the order.
“The overall cost is even going to be more than that because when you are harvesting, you use more of tractors, to uproot, then to pick from the field and assemble them to a particular location before we start loading into the truck. The major effect is that it is making movement of people difficult. It is a serious challenge because I have to stop all the operations. I am a pensioner, which is why I invested in cassava farming and in Ogun State today my farm is probably the largest cassava farm.”
He appealed to the Federal Government to have a rethink on the policy, and allow petrol and diesel to be brought to the farms, which can be carefully monitored by Customs.
Imeko’s farmer’s youth leader, Mr. Olorode Abayomide also disclosed that the policy is really affecting the farm produce “because some produce are being destroyed in the farms because there is no means of transporting them to the market. “Our major occupation here is farming and when we produce and there is no means to transport them to Abeokuta or Lagos because of fuel; we’ll run into debt. They are destroying our economy through this policy.
“We have tried to buy fuel from other places but the major problem concerning that is the fact that the Customs officials always think we are carrying it outside the country, that is another problem entirely.
“We want the Federal Government to allow the fuel to get to the 20 filling stations in our area, to assist the farmers.