Farmers, especially the smallholders, face a range of challenges, from planting, production, harvesting, processing, storage and marketing. However, there are also many not discussed problems that they face. In this article, we will explore some of these problems and how they affect smallholder farmers
1) Global Economic Crisis:
This can be explained by fluctuating produce prices and trade issues. Farmers usually have issues with selling and/or marketing their produce for a higher price. For farmers in rural areas, negotiating and setting prices for their produce is very difficult. This is usually due to several factors, from poor storage services for keeping the crops to too many middlemen. As a result, they are usually forced to sell their produce at any price given due to fluctuating commodity prices. The bad thing about this circumstance is that it gives farmers the sense that they shouldn't increase their production for human consumption.
2) Lack of access to agrochemicals to eradicate pests and diseases on their farms:
Pests contribute majorly to crop losses and they constitute a major problem that farmers face. A lack of adequate knowledge of solving this problem adds to the issue itself. Often farmers use agrochemicals like rodenticides and avicides to eradicate rodents and birds. The adverse effect is that they seriously harm crop produce throughout the ripening process, resulting in low productivity and, most often, disease transmission.
3) Lack of adequate storage and cold chain logistics:
According to the Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (NIIT) it is estimated that Nigeria loses 3.7 trillion Naira to food wastage and poor cold chain and storage logistics yearly. This offers a good explanation as to why more than 40% of farm produce do not get to the final customer. Poor storage conditions and packaging processes along with poor transport infrastructure all contribute to these issues also.
4) Land tenure system:
This is the system of the allocation of land to farmers and governing their use of it. These land policies are usually not very favourable to farmers. During land allocation, more precedence is usually given to commercial construction than farming. Agricultural lands that are supposed to be used for agriculture are instead being used to construct houses, industries, and roads. Then this question is asked if all our agricultural land is used for construction, where will our farmers grow their crops?
5) Pressures from Climate change:
Both the scarcity of food and the productivity of our farms are being affected by climate change. Floods, low rainfall, wildfires, and storms are examples of the effects of climate change.
Due to climate change, rainfall patterns have become inconsistent over time, which has had a detrimental effect on the food-producing industry.
According to news articles published by Business Day in 2022, farmers in many regions of Nigeria incurred around 60% of the damages as a result of the unexpected flood that attacked them. The flood destroyed the plantations, animals, and fish, putting the farmers deeply in debt. However, the majority of farmers in Nigeria still use the old-fashioned way of spotting changes in the weather and climate, and this irregularity greatly impacts the planting season.
Farmers, for instance, use unique animal behaviour, such as how high a bird soars in the sky, to predict pleasant weather. However, these methods are no longer effective because of changes that have been occurring. These developments or changes could have an impact on the country's food security in the future by discouraging rural farmers from engaging in large-scale agriculture. Similar to how excessive heat causes soil to deteriorate, low crop yields may result. In the same way, it affects people, it also has an impact on how plants and animals grow.
How do we address these problems?
Providing direct-to-market services for farmers in rural areas and encouraging fixed commodity prices on major crops. This can help farmers have more control over prices and enjoy adequate profits for their work.
Offering weather advisory services to farmers. Before planting and harvesting, private and public institutions should provide daily weather reports to farmers. This helps protect against the adverse effect of weather irregularities. The benefits of these solutions can be explained to the farmers and help get their cooperation and farmers have access to this on the Beta Farmer Package
New cultivars of crops that can easily adapt to adverse situations should be encouraged by researchers.
Improved Storage facility and Packaging: Storage helps to reduce microbial growth on harvested crops, maintain the quality of crops and maximize profit. Examples of these storage facilities are underground storage, silo, and barns. Read more about how storage can maximize your profit here
Funding and Crop Insurance: Making loans more accessible has been advocated over time. To use inputs like irrigation techniques or truck or tractor provisions, funds are required. It is necessary for year-round production. Therefore, loan programs with single-digit interest rates and extended repayment periods would go a long way in ensuring farmers get access to the finance required to run their farms. Educating farmers on financial awareness and services can also help with helping them manage their finances and records which increases their eligibility for loans.
In the case of insurance, it will help farmers hedge against the risks of adverse conditions. The provision of crop insurance can also have a second-order effect of encouraging more people to go into farming regardless of the risk.
Conclusively, addressing these challenges will require sustained efforts from different stakeholders ranging from the government, private sector, NGOs, and civil society to improve the livelihood of Nigerian farmers and promote economic growth in rural areas.
Luckily we are trying to address some of these problems through the Beta Farmer Package. We believe that by giving farmers access to quality farm services, we can help make their farms much better and more successful. Through access to discounted inputs, storage services, health insurance and weather advisory, the Beta Farmer Package is looking to give farmers access to services that help them scale and hedge against these problems.
You can get started on the Beta Farmer Package today by dialling *347*46*466#.