Once again, the revelations of small-scale vegetable growers in the Ojo region in Lagos confirmed the empowerment of agriculture. This set of urban farmers, rather than imposing a burden on society, believes in the dignity of work, the dignity of hard work and social responsibility to care for their families through honest means of livelihood.
More than 15 years ago, dense and deserted areas on the front line of the Lagos University (LASU), as well as the side walls of the barracks of the Nigerian army on the way to Iba junction, were usually caught by people in the underworld, who killed and maimed people every day. using the cover of the night, said Mohammed Aliya, one of the vegetable growers at the gate of the LACU, told The Guardian.
Activity and volume
Mohammed, like many other farmers around this place, has several layers of different types of vegetables, including spinach, flavor leaves (Ocimu gratissimum, efinrin), jute leaves (Corchorus olitorius, ewedu), salad of lagun spinach (soko, celosia argentea) onion .
Farmers create nurseries where seeds are allowed to germinate for about 15 days or less. They transplant these seedlings on growing beds, equipped with a bird or sow, very early in the morning or in the evening, planting at a distance of 20-25 centimeters in the same row and between two rows. Transplanted vegetables are harvested for sale in two weeks.
The smell of the leaves takes more than one month in the nursery and takes another month before harvesting. However, one of the advantages of this vegetable is that the stems and leaves are cut with knives at a base close to the ground (not rooted), which allows farmers to collect the leaves of the aroma every month for 10 or more months without re-planting,
This, according to farmers, takes the cost of seeds, stress and labor of transplanting seedlings every month, as is done for other types of vegetables.
During the rainy season, the growth rate of spinach and jute leaves slows down, taking more than one month (with nurseries) before harvest. But in dry seasons, 14 days after transplanting from the nursery, farmers can begin to harvest and sell vegetables, especially spinach, jute leaf and spinach of Lagos.
The farm is wetted about three to four times a day during the dry season, but once or not when it rains.
Soluble fertilizers and insecticides are also mixed with water at intervals to increase growth and protect plants, respectively.
Farmers of the LASU gate dig up small wells, from where they usually bring water to irrigate their farms with washing banks.
Mohammed argued that business is good, especially in the dry season, when production is limited; demand is usually high and fewer resources are spent on insecticides and other pest control chemicals.
“Everything I sell here is used to feed myself, my children and support the farm,” he said.
He divides the farm into about four parts, selling different lots of vegetable ripening every week.
“I sell from 10 to 20 places of vegetables every day, except Sunday. Each bed with vegetables could bring me from N300 to 500, ”he added.
Ibrahim Yahaya, another vegetable farmer adjacent to the LAZU gate who has been growing vegetables for more than six years, divided his share of agricultural land into five lots. Every day he sells about 10 beds of vegetables on the N500 and uses bird droppings, inorganic fertilizer to rejuvenate the soil and insecticides for crop production.
He also confirmed that vegetables grow better in the dry season. Yahaya feeds his wife and children from the income from vegetable farming.
Danliki Yisa, who grows these types of vegetables, collected 35 Ocimum gratissimum beds (efinrin) when The Guardian hit his farm, each of which was sold on the N300 in order to sell it on the neighboring product market in Lagos cosmopolis.
A high school graduate, Musa Space, who helps his father, Alia, on the farm, growing 40 beds of spinach, 24 beds of Lagos spinach (soko) and several layers of jute leaf (evedu), said that he, his father and the entire nuclear family lives on the felling of vegetable farms.
His father, however, said that most of their income from vegetable production also goes to expensive costs, such as insecticides, labor, and fertilizer.
They called for intervention in terms of seeds, fertilizers, insecticides, and possibly microloans to expand their agricultural activities.
The vice-chairman of the farm group, Isa Musa, who grows more than 400 beds of lettuce, spring onions and others, and sells once a week, said that although he sells a weekly vegetable of about $ 10,000, its production cost is equally high – from N3,000 to N 5000. Such a cost, he added, covers the preparation of land, seeds, fertilizers and insecticides.
He also calls on the government to help by providing soft loans or materials, especially improved seed varieties that can grow faster and produce more leaves.
Baba Alilu Qasure, a 60-year-old farmer from the state of Jigawa, mourned that some government officials had once visited farms, but no help had ever come to their side.
He urged the government, non-governmental organizations and private organizations to help them with good seeds and other resources as a means of allowing them to feed more Nigerians with affordable vegetables.
On his farms he divides the beds by about 250, growing lettuce, spinach and jute leaves.
How can you help farmers?
Positively, these farmers need the authority to do more in their efforts to be productive, to feed themselves, their families and other Nigerians.
Close observation of their seeds revealed old, depleted and poor fruitful varieties that have lost their fertile genetic traits. Although they are aware of the improved varieties, most of them cannot truly afford it without disturbing significant investments and expenses.
Humphrey Otalor, brands and marketing manager of Dizengoff Nigeria, said that there are improved, exotic and high-yielding varieties of leafy vegetables that such farmers can accept.
He said that they were improved in three ways. The varieties are high-yielding, producing more leaves for farmers. The improvement also includes resistance to pests and, finally, a faster ripening period. According to Otalora, kale, lettuce, spinach and cabbage are superior varieties.
Land preparation is carried out using hoes. This method is not only repulsive, but also laborious, time consuming and restrictive.
There are manual mechanical cultivators that farmers can use if they are empowered.
A cultural physiologist at the National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), Ibadan, Dr. Emmanuel Ajay, said equally that improved and fast-growing varieties were developed and propagated by the institute.
Leaves of jute, spinach lagos (soko); amaranth; according to Ajai, among improved vegetables developed and multiplied by the economic benefits of farmers.
However, the presence of these varieties did not have a positive impact on the agro-economic activities of most rural farmers, including the vegetable farmers of the LASU gate in Lagos.
Ajayi pointed out two factors hindering the access of these small farmers to improved vegetable seeds. First, he said that information about available varieties is not always available to farmers as a consequence of the folded state of agricultural extension services in Nigeria.
The second argument, according to Ajai, is the availability of seeds. Most farmers, he added, annually collect seeds from seeds from their farms, practically without spending anything on seeds for later planting. Consequently, attempts to introduce new, improved, but expensive seeds and seedlings to farmers can be rejected.
Small wells are dug in the dry seasons, which serve as sources of water for wetting farms. These farmers could provide centralized wells, water tanks and irrigation drops that could improve their lives.
In fact, solar energy wells are very practical here, given the microscale of their farm sizes.
Renatia’s energy specialist, Mr. Rotimi Pariola, explained that simple solar pumping machines with one or two 250-watt solar panels and a 50-byte battery would allow such wells to be used by such farmers.
Providing a number of these facilities to these types of farmers would simplify their work, help them expand cultivation and increase their profitability.