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Farmers kick as FCTA fertiliser warehouse turns farmland

The fertilizer warehouse has been turned into a farmland
The fertilizer warehouse has been turned into a farmland

A look at the Federal Capital Territory Administration’s fertiliser warehouse in Tunga Maje sent a cold shiver down the spine of Alhaji Garba.

He said it is heartbreaking that the facility he usually walked into to get fertiliser is abandoned in ruins and now overgrown with grasses. Part of the roofs is blown off and left to rot due to neglect, he said.

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Alhaji Garba, a smallscale farmer in TunganMaje, said rural farmers bear the major brunt of the underused facility as they now have to pay through their noses to procure fertilisers, elsewhere.

Whenever there is need for him to purchase fertiliser, he spends about N6,000 to purchase a bag for use on his farm whereas a few years back, same would have been gotten for half the amount and with ease at the FCTA fertiliser warehouse in his community.

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“In 2014, we got fertiliser here for about N3,500,” he said adding that not only has the facility deteriorated, but it has also failed in meeting the needs of farmers in the area.

The FCTA fertilizer warehouse meant to support rural farmers  but the facility’s surrounding has been turned into a maize and okra farms. Inside the warehouses is packed with planks and  wood hitherto used to brace bags of fertilisers offloaded there.

Residents of several agrarian communities, including Tunga Nasara, Konkole, Unguwar Dio, Shenagwu, Shishida and Unguwar Sogele, that used to benefit from the warehouse said it has been operating at its worst for over four years now with some of the roofing sheets blown off while the buildings are dilapidated.

Of the five warehouses in the facility, only one is in use. “That one is not even in good condition because they had to pack the fertilisers into a corner as part of the roof has been blown off,” Alhaji Garba said.

Taiwo Lawrence Adeyemi a resident recently commented: “With about 100, 000 tonnes capacity and a staff quarters, the FCDA Fertiliser Warehouse at Tunga Maje, Gwagwalada Area Council, has been taken over by rodents as it is left to rot, the building dilapidated and roof blown off. 

Adeyemi’s message captured the deplorable state  of the facilities at the FCTA Fertiliser Warehouse in Tunga Maje.

The warehouse, located near the pedestrian bridge in Tunga Maje is ‘one of several government facilities underutilised and left to rot,’ Alhaji Garba said.

Four of the warehouses are in poor state in the facility with several portions of the roof blown off and where there’s roof it leaks and as a result weakens the buildings.

The staff quarters in the facility is in a more terrible state as the windows and doors have been vandalised. With the roof also blown off. They have been turned into a dumpsite for used cloths and other abandoned materials.

Another resident, Umar Mohammed, said the facility would have boosted economic activities in the area. He said easy access to fertilisers by farmers would have led to improved harvest and also enhance economic activities in the area.

Mohammed described the facility as “a waste of government resources,” adding that it would be difficult to keep fertiliser consignments in any of the warehouses as destructive rodents have taken over the facility.

Aside the decrepit nature of the facility, Alhaji Garba said bureaucratic bottlenecks in the administration was discouraging rural farmers from obtaining fertiliser from the government.

He said some farmers spent money and time to travel over  20 kilometres to the FCT Administration office in Area 11, Garki before they could pay and be cleared to get some fertiliser at the facility.

“Consider the transportation fare, stress, time and energy it would take to get to Area 11,” he said, adding that farmers would have to collect clearance to pay at the bank and return to the secretariat before they are issued another clearance to take to the warehouse to obtain the fertiliser.

Garba, while explaining the attitude of an average civil servant to work, said government bureaucracy delayed such processes such that some farmers would have to travel twice to the city centre before obtaining their fertiliser consignment.

He said in most cases, rather than go through the stress, most people like him, resorted to buying from the markets at exorbitant prices.

The secretary, FCTA Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat (ARDS), Stanley Ifeanyichukwu Nzekwe, said government was aware of the situation the facility and that contract for its renovation was awarded in 2017 but it could not access funds.

“Before this administration came into power, one of the buildings was more than 30 years old and part of it was blown off by wind from the records. But in 2016, it was put into procurement process which was now advertised and awarded in 2017 when I came in. But since then we haven’t accessed it because the 2017 budget was rolled over for capital projects for 2018,” he said adding that government could not ‘proceed’ because budget has not been approved but that there are new warehouses in Gwagwa and Kwali.

“In Tungan Maje, we are using half of that warehouse because if we take in maybe 500 bags, we keep them at the part that is good with pallet because we must distribute to farmers who are leaving close to those areas.

Take note that part of the contract was awarded before I came which is the fencing, and it has been completed

“The damage we had from the fertilisers we kept was not up to five bags, that is the truth. We still have about 200 bags left which is the last batch of what we are distributing,” he said.

On the staff quarters, Nzekwe said, “I don’t want to start blaming any government; it could not have been between these two years that it got damaged. Some people may have collected the money. The staff quarters is bad but that is not the issue at stake, we want to secure our warehouse first before our staff quarters.”

On farmers going to the secretariat in Garki before buying fertilisers, he said, “I don’t have any apologies for that. The reason is that somebody will come and tell you that he has 1000 farmers behind him and you maybe approve 100 bags and he diverts same to sell and make a profit of N3,000 a bag because we are subsidising at 50 per cent. So we said no, we don’t allocate to cooperatives.”

Nzekwe said the measure was to check sharp practices by residents. “What we do is we give three or four bags per person, which he can carry from any of the warehouses depending on the location.”

He said the renovation of the facility hinged on budgetary provision.

 

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