Farmers in the Oke Ogun area of Oyo State under the aegis of Association of Farm Settlers on Sunday said failed flood forecast and lack of government input in agriculture would lead to scarcity of maize in 2021.

The farmers said its members lost millions of naira in the 2020 planting season as a result of government failure to support agriculture.

Oke Ogun area of Oyo State is arguably the food basket of the entire South-West region in the country.

The group made the disclosure at its emergency meeting held in the Iseyin area of the state to address the plight of maize farmers in the state.

The farmers claimed many of its members had decided not to cultivate maize again because of existing challenges with manpower and farm implements.

In a communique signed by their Chairman, Mr Alabi Kazeem, and dated Saturday, 26th December, 2020, which was made available to newsmen in Ibadan on Sunday, the body claimed its members had immediately taken loans from commercial banks and private individuals to cultivate maize following a weather forecast that predicted adequate rainfall as from October.

“Many of our members have decided not to plant maize again because of the low and unstable rainfall. When they heard about the government's forecast through the meteorology department as well as the rigorous campaign by Oyo State Ministry of Environment and Water Resources that there would be lots of rain towards the end of October and November, they looked for funds to plant maize.

“It is very unfortunate that the failed forecast led to a staggering loss to our members; they lost millions of naira in bank loans and borrowings from family and friends to plant maize. Many cannot even pass by their farms to see the withered maize farms; we are so hurt by this occurrence.

“Inasmuch as we are not blaming the federal and state governments for issuing flood alerts to safeguard lives and property, including those of farmers, we are using this opportunity to appeal to them to support us. Our members have been pushed from pillar to post in a bid to repay loans they took from banks and individuals.”

The communique further said the two layers of government and the Central Bank of Nigeria should come up with good initiatives to avert food scarcity, especially scarcity of maize in 2021 as most maize farmers in Nigeria had lost their crops to drought.

The Association of Government Farm Settlers, Ipapo-Iseyin branch which represented farmers in the Oke Ogun area of Oyo State, used the occasion of the emergency meeting to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to develop new initiatives to assist farmers and support genuine farmers.

They also urged the Governor of Oyo State, Mr Seyi Makinde, to fulfil his promise to extend the coverage of funding for farm settlements to their association, which represents the 10 local government areas in Oke Ogun. They hope this will be done from the recent loan taken by the administration to develop farm settlements.

“Our fear for now is about what will be the fate of poor Nigerians that depend largely on basic food items that are sourced from maize? It is easy to predict that there will be scarcity of maize next year with what happened this year, unless the government quickly finds a way out to assist farmers to surmount this problem.

“Our governor in Oyo State has shown an unparalleled love for farmers in the state and we can all see that he is out to make agriculture the major pillar to promote the state’s economy. We are calling on him to please extend the funding he plans to provide for farm settlements from the loan (he took), to us at Oke Ogun,” Alabi said.

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