Farm settlement was a government intervention scheme initiated to promote efficiency in the utilization of land resources and dignity in farming through provision of infrastructure.
This was modelled after the Isreali Moshavim, a Co-operative, semi-collective agricultural settlement, designed as part of the Zionist state building programme where members work together to develop the land, increase the economy of the state and defend the nation.
This concept, along with that of the kibbutz, was birthed at a time when Israel, was facing a severe crisis; as waves of Jewish immigrants were entering the country every year, and the government was faced with the daunting task of absorbing this new population.
While much of the population was concentrated in their major cities, huge areas of land layed fallow in the rural areas. In addition, the major problem facing the nascent state, was the financial shape of the new regime, which was basically bankrupt after the 1948-49 war. Hence, the State was not producing enough food for its population, with solution needed, and needed fast.
Today, Moshavim along with the kibbutzim, have been more or less modified; While moshavim continue to exist as co-operative enterprises, most are no longer self-sustaining. Most moshav members now work outside their settlements. Also, as the urban areas have expanded, they have absorbed a number of moshavim which have simply become suburbs of Israel’s many cities and townships.
Despite this, the moshavim have not diminished in their importance to Israel. Moshavim continue to produce a disproportionate percentage of the nation’s agricultural output, while simultaneously being involved in many industries, including tourism.
In Nigeria, the scheme started in the late 50s in the Western state, which sparsely exist in some states of the country today. Land was acquired by the State Government from local chieftains and native authourities. Each settler was to receive six to eight hectares of land, of which one and a half hectares were for subsistence crops. Enterprises on the settlements included cash crops and livestock products.
Primary school leavers (most of them between 11 and 14) were recruited and trained in farm institutes for two to three years and eventually settled on the farms. The settler’s initial contribution lay in the provision of part of the labour necessary for establishing the holdings.
All the expenditure was borne by the Government, while the settlers were expected to acquire complete ownership by repayment of that component of Government’s investment which included the settler’s house and the establishment of his farm unit. The primary objectives of the scheme were briefly to provide employment and income for school leavers, arrest the wave of rural migration to the towns, increase agricultural productivity, demonstrate modern technique of farming and to solve the land tenure problem, a major constraint to agricultural development.
Unfortunately, this nice concept has gone into oblivion with the few available ones in comatose. While the idea of the Federal Government to empower and attract youths to the Agric sector of the economy is welcomed, the re-introduction of the farm settlement scheme is strongly recommended, as it will not only provide young people who are interested in farming the opportunity to obtain land; it will facilitate massive food production for local consumption and export, create employment, raw materials for industries, introduction of new technologies and modern farming techniques, arrest the wave of rural migration to the towns, increase GDP, reduce Nigeria’s overdependence on oil while solving the land tenure problem, a major constraint to agricultural development.
Authour: Adeyemi Bamidele Ezekiel