A strange disease suspected to be fungal infection has affected ginger production in Southern Kaduna. Over 2500 hectres of farms are allegedly affected, with farmers incuring losses estimated at over N10 billion. This has calamity has further plunged the local farmers into hardship, as some of them had taken loans to set up their ginger farms.
For some of the farmers this setback comes as a shock as they have never expirienced this level of carnage since starting their farming enterprise.
An assessment tour of ginger farms in some affected local government councils of the state over the weekend- by Executive Director/ Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) Dr Ezra Yakusak and Commissioner of Agriculture, Kaduna state, Mr Muritala Dabbo- confirmed that the entire ginger farms had been destroyed by a mystery crop infection that leaves ginger farmers helpless with lamentation.
Conducting an NEPC team around affected local governments which included, Jaba local government, Jere local government and Kargako local government amongst others, Dabbo described the ginger pandemic as devastating and unprecedented”
”The first thing we did when it was reported, was to invite the Institute of Agriculture Research, Ahmadu Bello University ( ABU) Zaria. We came with our team, they took soil samples and plants.
Thereafter, they came up with a result which confirmed it to be a fungi pathogen. They recommended that we need fungi-insecticides. By the time we bought and sent these to the smallholder farmers, they had badly been affected already
The few that were alive, we were able to salvage for seedlings next year. Going forward, they advised that, we plant in damp areas with good drainages and do crop rotation. All the investment is gone. We are looking for support from the Federal Government and development partners. Ginger production is a key non-oil export commodity of Nigeria.
We know our currency is depreciating, and we need all the dollars we can get, ginger is a good source. As you can see this year is gone, all investment in ginger wiped out “, he said.
Speaking in an interview with the media representatives, NEPC CEO, Dr Ezra Yakusak described it as ‘mystery pandemic’. He assured affected farmers of the Council’s support.
“This is a complete ruin. From what we have seen here, about 95 per cent of ginger has been wiped away in Kaduna. Is going to affect our non-oil export performance. That’s why we are worried and is a thing of concern. This is a pandemic, and I think we must all put effort together and do what needs to be done by putting our eyes, and effort on that disease.
” Now we have seen the devastation. Part of the things we are going to do is to build the capacity of the farmer’s interms of seed dressing. The Council will see how to get improved seedlings to farmers. Is not an easy task but we had to do it. The situation is actually pathetic. The whole ginger is melted, everything is melted. It is a strange disease.
“We don’t know where it’s coming from. It’s both soil-borne and airborne. For every farm, the story is the same. This moment a ginger is fresh and green, the next moment everything is dry. NEPC is going to intervene interms of improved seedlings and capacity building”, Ezra assured.
One of the affected farmers at Jaba local government a 71-year-old Mr. Timpot Yaki pleaded with the federal government and state for interventions and support. He said the majority of farmers in the affected local government’s farm only ginger crops. He said proceeds from the ginger sale are what they use in maintaining their families.
Mr. Yaki while explaining their predicament said, ” I’m a 71-year-old farmer and I have been farming ginger for a long time. This has never happened before. The ginger will get rotten, when you break it you see some maggots inside. After a few months, even on farms that were not treated, the fungi hit it.
“That’s why I say it’s like a mystery. No single ginger farm survived it. Some said it was because of fertilizer; even people who didn’t apply fertilizer were affected. We heard they came from Zaria to test the crop and soil. Our prayer now is against next year. If happens again next year we are finished. Right now we are trying to preserve some seeds for next year. The level of damage across seven local governments is about 97 per cent”, he said.
The sole Administrator of Jaba local government council, Kaduna State, Mrs Nita Byack George while reacting to the unfortunate incident stated that the pandemic has seriously affected the economy of the local government as majority of the indigenes depends largely on their farms to feed their families
”It has really affected the lives of individuals and the economy of the local government. There were some of our people who collapsed the moment they realized the devastating situation of their crop. A lot of families are in pain because ginger is the source of their livelihood”, she said.
IMAGE: One manorama