• Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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BusinessDay

Bauchi watermelon yield failure push farmers to Cameroon

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Watermelon farmers in Bara village, the heart of watermelon production in Bauchi’s Kirfi LGA, are experiencing a crisis. Diseases and pests have ravaged dry season crops, leading to significant harvest losses.

The situation has become so dire that many farmers have abandoned watermelon altogether, opting for maize and other vegetables. This exodus extends beyond borders, with hundreds of young farmers relocating to Taraba State and Cameroon to continue their watermelon cultivation.

A perfect storm of challenges

Isa Danazumi, a veteran watermelon farmer, describes the challenges: “This season, we’ve faced a double whammy. Seedlings die mysteriously, and even established plants succumb to a stubborn pest that defies all insecticides.”

Danazumi highlights the financial strain: “For three years, these issues have persisted, making watermelon farming a gamble. The high cost of inputs coupled with poor yields leave many farmers with nothing to show for their efforts.”

Farmers seek solutions and government support

The economic impact is widespread. Watermelon farming has traditionally been the mainstay for many Bara families.

Abubakar Ahmadu Tasha Turmi, another farmer, laments, “We invest heavily in cultivating and protecting our crops, only to end up with minimal harvest. This season, some farmers haven’t harvested anything at all.”

The exodus of young farmers is particularly concerning. Many see no other option but to leave Bara to pursue their livelihoods elsewhere.

Danazumi A. Abdullahi, a farmer with over 40 years of experience, warns, “Unless addressed, these issues threaten the very existence of dry season watermelon farming in Bara. We’re appealing to the Bauchi State government to intervene.”

A call for intervention

Farmers are pleading for assistance from the government. They request investigation into the cause of the diseases and pests, alongside the development of solutions. Additionally, they urge the government to provide support for modern farming techniques to improve yields and potentially reverse the tide of migration.

Alhaji Adamu Sarkin Yamma Bara, a prominent watermelon trader, emphasizes the urgency, “We’ve exhausted all our options. The government must act to prevent the complete abandonment of watermelon farming, a cornerstone of Bara’s economy.”

With the future of watermelon farming in jeopardy, Bara’s farmers anxiously await a response from the Bauchi State government.