By Hawa Lawal
Tudun Wada (Nasarawa State) – Exhibitors at the just-concluded National Agricultural Show, organised by National Agricultural Foundation of Nigeria (NAFN), have complained about poor patronage at the show.
Some of the exhibitors grumbled about the poor patronage in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Tudun Wada, Nasarawa, the venue of the agricultural show on Friday.
The exhibitors told the NAN that they had witnessed low patronage throughout the four-day event.
They also lamented about poor participation of exhibitors, poor organisation of the event, poor turnout of customers and financial constraints.
They particularly expressed displeasure over the low patronage but attributed the lull in business to the paucity of funds generally affecting the populace, which had similarly affected all sectors of the economy.
A government official from Kano, who spoke on condition of anonymity, however, attributed the low patronage to the current political situation in the country.
He said that in the past, several state governments used to sponsor participants from public and private sector organisations to the fair, adding, however, the situation had changed.
The official said that even though the current economic situation in the country could partly be blamed for the development, the current focus of the citizenry was now on politics and the imminent electioneering.
He, nonetheless, said that the Kano Agric Supply Company, a fertiliser blending firm and a livestock producer fully participated in the agricultural show.
“Most of the farmers that visited our stand did not buy many things, all of them complained of the prevalent cash crunch,’’ he said.
Madam Helen Adikwu, a herbal drug exhibitor from Kaduna State, said that this year’s agricultural show was very poor in terms of customers’ turnout, when compared to the previous editions.
She alleged that the organisers failed to give the show adequate publicity, saying that many people were not aware of the event.
Another exhibitor, Mr Badmus Abel, also blamed the low attendance on the current economic situation in the country.
He said that majority of the people who attended the show just came there for window-shopping to view the products on display.
Abel said that apart from the prevalent cash crunch in the country, the organisers failed to plan the programme very well, adding that this had a negative effect on the show.
However, Malam Abdullahi, a hide and skin producer from Kano, said he was able to secure good contracts from some of the customers, adding that this had somewhat toned down his regrets concerning poor patronage.
“This fair is not well-publicised; I came all the way from Kano and it was at a loss because I did not sell any product, as the people were bitterly complaining of no money,’’ he said.
Ms. Justina Bendin, National Secretary African Initiative for Agriculture and Rural Development, noted that the people’s attendance at the fair had been dwindling yearly.
She that this was because majority of the companies and individuals that started the fair in 2016 had stopped coming to exhibit their wares, even though they were still in business.
She urged the organisers of the agricultural show to reassess the planning of the fair and look into ways of attracting more patronage.
Mr Simon Alehi, a seed provider from Benue, underscored the need for government intervention, provision of shelter at the fair grounds and adequate security for exhibitors.
He said that these requirements had become imperative because of the huge amount of money which the exhibitors paid for hotel accommodation and the security of their goods.
Investigations by NAN revealed that most of the exhibitors left a day after the official opening ceremony, while some left early on Friday without waiting for the closing ceremony.
NAN discovered that petty traders selling goods such as foods, drinks, shoes and household items far outnumbered the main exhibitors at the fair. (NAN)