Some farmers in Enugu say high cost of labour occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic may affect food production in the state this year.
Expressing their concern in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Enugu, the farmers said that hiring of labourers was a major constraint for them.
Mr Linus Nze, a yam farmer said that human labour was the main source of labour available for most farmers in the state.
Nze explained that the hired labourers, who carried out most of the farming activities, were demanding huge sums of money from farm owners to render their services.
“Hired labour is predominantly used by most farmers in the state and these labourers, who use traditional technologies are too costly to hire,” he said.
Mrs Maria Nwakwo, a cassava farmer, lamented that the lockdown was responsible for the high cost of labour as many labourers used during planting season were from other states and were affected by the interstate lockdown.
“As a result of the lockdown, we can only get few labourers at a higher cost because most of the labourers are unable to come to Enugu as they have always been doing during every planting season,” Nwakwo said.
Mr Chima Nebo, another farmer, said that he paid N150 per mound, which involved cutting and preparation of the soil for yam planting, as against N100 in 2019.
“Planting about 300 tubers of yam will definitely cost a whole lot of money for me, which is not encouraging,” Nebo said.
On her part, Mrs Ozima Agu said that cutting and preparing ridges for planting vegetables was also expensive for her.
Agu said that she engaged every member of her family in the farming activities as they were all at home due to the lockdown.
“Since I started farming business, I have been using labourers for clearing my farmland, tilling of the soil and planting
“But the high cost of labour in this lockdown has made me to engage my whole family, rather than spending huge sums on labour.
“The lockdown has made things difficult for farmers as our labourers, who are mainly from neighboring states, cannot leave their state for farm business in Enugu,”she said.