The Nsukka Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (NCCIMA) says agriculture businesses in the area are dying over the high cost of diesel.
The Director-General of the chamber, Mr Dan Ochi, disclosed this on Friday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu.
Ochi, who is also the Managing Director, Global Farms, said the worst affected were the tomatoes and pepper production businesses that depended on diesel for irrigation purposes.
“We have stopped the production of our tomatoes and pepper because we can no longer run our irrigation machines at the current pump price of diesel.
“Our business started when the pump price of diesel was N200 but it is over N800 now and this does not in any way support business,” he said.
The director-general said companies that were into the production of fresh tomatoes, yellow and red pepper, popularly called ‘Nsukka Pepper’, had closed for business, leading to job losses.
“We have a greenhouse farm with an irrigation system where we produce tomatoes and pepper both in rainy and dry seasons.
“We supply to processing organisations. Sometimes we dry them and sell them locally. We pump water from 650 feet deep because water is a major raw material for the production,” he said.
According to Ochi, no amount of effort can make one break even at the current high cost of diesel.
“We were producing one metric ton every month but most of our workers have been asked to go home,” he said.
He said that it was sad that most government policies were not supportive of small enterprises.
He described the business environment in the South-East as not encouraging due to several factors.
“The business environment in the South-East is poor. The road infrastructure is deplorable, coupled with extortion by various security agencies on the road.
“All these add up to increase the total cost of the goods,” Ochi said.