Farmers in Enugu State on Wednesday lamented the acute scarcity and high cost of cassava stems for this year’s cultivation.
The farmers told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu that the scarcity had become a source of concern to cassava farmers in the state.
A big-time cassava farmer, Mr Onyekwere Ikem, said that getting cassava stems for cultivation had never been a problem before now.
Ikem said that before now, all one had to do was ask a friend or neighbour for some stems to cultivate.
“The stems are hardly sold in the market because people are always ready to provide it for whoever cares to have it.
“However, because of its scarcity, people have started to hoard it and will rather prefer to sell it in the market than give it out due to its high price,’’ Ikem said.
Mr Obiora Ugwu, another cassava farmer, said he had gone from house to house, and from farmer to farmer in his quest to get cassava stems to plant.
“This is unbelievable, I have been searching for cassava stems from one farmer to another and from house to house so that I can have enough to cultivate, but to no avail.
“I was able to get a few bundles which will not be enough for me because my plan is to have much cassava next year,’’ the farmer said.
Ugwu said it was hard to explain why the stems had become so scarce.
A seller of cassava flakes, otherwise called “Garri’’ in local parlance, Miss Ebere Ekwo, said that if the scarcity of cassava stems persisted it would increase the price of commodity next year.
Garri is a popular West African food made from cassava tubers. The spelling ‘garri’ is mainly used in Cameroon, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Benin, Togo and ‘gari’ in Ghana. In some sub-Saharan regions of Africa, it is referred to as ‘gali’.
Ekwo said that farmers who were desperate to get the stems now bought from markets at high price so as to have some to cultivate.
Another farmer, Madam Ego Ibezim, said that a bundle of cassava stems which formerly sold between N300 and N400 now went for between N1000 to N1, 500 at the rural markets in Enugu.
Mr Azubike Okoye, a cassava farmer, expressed fear that the situation might result in poor or low yields and late harvest in the year.
Okoye called on the State Ministry of Agriculture to come to the aid of farmers by providing them cassava stems at subsidised rates. (NAN)