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Farmers count losses as fungal disease ravages ginger farms

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Farmers count losses as fungal disease ravages ginger farms

ABU institute proffers solution
Ginger farmers in Kaduna State have been counting their losses as a fungal disease is destroying most of their seeds.

The situation, they said, was affecting their yields after they had sunk millions of naira. The disease was first noticed in Kachia, Jaba, Kagarko and Jema’a LGAs in the southern part of the state where ginger farming on a large scale.

They are the centre of ginger farming in the country where bulk buyers used to converge from different countries around the world for their purchases.

Ginger from Kagarko, Jaba and Kachia LGAs in southern Kaduna, is also reputed to be the world’s best.

To combat the disease, which started in July, some of the farmers said they had applied insecticides/pesticides they knew but their efforts did not yield any meaningful results as the pest continued destroying their farms.

The disease that is ravaging ginger farms in southern Kaduna is strange and was noticed in the first week of July and has raised a lot of questions among the farmers.

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The disease affects the leaves and also the ginger roots (rhizomes).

It starts its attack on the leaves of the ginger plant and after two to three days the whole leaves will turn yellow and begin to decay.

Usman Yohanna Dankabo aka Tiger, one of the farmers that have suffered losses, said he estimates to have lost more than N20 million.

Tiger, who hails from Gidan Mana village in Kachia LGA, narrated to our reporter the signs of the strange disease saying, “Some aspects of the leaves will begin to dry up and turn brown from the outside, the disease will then penetrate deep inside the seed and destroy it,” he said.

“I have been into ginger farming for more than 50 years now but I have never witnessed something like this in my life,” he added.

Tiger said many farmers he knows from Maraban Walijo, Sabon Sarki, Jaban Logo, Gidan Mana, Kurmin Musa, Kurmin Mata, Antong, Gyani, Kenyi in Kachia and Kagarko LGAs have lost hundreds of millions of naira to the disease.

Farmers in many of the villages in the four local government areas have suffered losses as the disease was prevalent on almost all farmlands.

“I personally know the farmer that lost almost N30 million and those lamenting losses ranging from N10 to N20 million each. As for me, I lost more than N20 million from my ginger farm.

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“I don’t know where and how to start farming next season as we depend solely on it. Some of our farmers depend on loans from First Bank, Agric Bank, Microfinance Bank while others depend on private companies and associations like LAPO, Olam, Robot Effects and others on individuals for loans before going into farming every season,” he said.

Usman Tiger said he used to cultivate ginger on seven hectares of land and he is taking care of his family from the farming occupation and paying for other siblings’ school fees with the profit he makes from his ginger harvest.

He said presently the ginger farmers are not certain of getting any meaningful returns as they have lost millions of naira from attacks on their site alone, and over N2 billion in the whole of southern Kaduna where the world’s best ginger harvest is realised annually.

A ginger marketer in southern Kaduna who buys from the farmers and sells to buyers from Kano and Lagos states for exportation, Ibrahim Salihu Tahir, said the disease not only affects the farmers but also the buyers as they depend on farmers for the purchases.

“I can say what happens to the farmers directly affects us as we are partners in business. Transactions of billions of naira are recorded between the farmers, buyers and middlemen from April to November every year,” he said.

He therefore called on government to intervene by combatting the disease attack and support the farmers for the next farming season to enable them to harvest more, through grants and soft loans.

The farmers could not actually determine the exact disease, but the president, Kagarko Youth Progressive Forum (KYPF), Kagarko Local Government Area, Shedrack Michael, said they have contacted the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) which has promised to contact other related agencies on combating the disease.

“But up till now, I haven’t heard anything from them,” he said, adding that there’s no solution to the outbreak with more farmers keep crying for solutions.

“Some chemicals were recommended to be used yet there’s no positive outcome after applying them,” he added.

Ayuba Chairman from Kubacha, Kagarko local government, said the farmers are confused as a result of the disease and do not know what to do or how to tackle the problem.

He, however, said the disease did not attack some farms while others were only partly affected across southern Kaduna.

He called on state and local governments to help them find a solution to the problem. He said considering the money spent in cultivating the crop, they were running at a loss.

He called on the farmers to remain calm and hopeful as they were doing all they could to find a solution to the problem.

Another farmer who cultivates ginger in Jaba LGA, Sunday Pyen, said he had lost most of his ginger to the disease. He said he had tried all he could to control the menace without success.

Pyen said he used different kinds of insecticides in the farm but to no avail.

“The worst part of it is we don’t know the real causes of the disease but some people are attributing it to soil infection or climate change, while others are attributing it to an invented virus which extended to the crop.

But preliminary investigations by experts revealed that the causal agent is a soil-borne fungus.

In a widely circulated message on social media sighted by Daily Trust and attributed to the Head of the Department of Crop Protection, Institute of Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Professor L. J. Bamaiyi, it recommended the farmers to apply a combination of Mancozeb and Metalaxyl as active ingredients under the trade name Redforce.

It recommended the application of 50g in 16 litres of water on the crop that is showing symptoms at 10-day intervals as an immediate remedy.

The farmers said the general challenge they were having is not having an umbrella body that would unite them and act on their behalf on issues.

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