Sokoto is famed as a key producer of carrot, a popular root vegetable which experts have noted to be very rich in Vitamin A, dietary fibre, antioxidants, and minerals.
It is cultivated in Kware, Ilela, Goronyo, Wamakko, Gada and Dange Shuni local government areas of the state.
On a weekly basis, not less than 10 trailer loads of 400-450 sacks of carrot are said to leave Sokoto to other states across Nigeria.
However, carrot farmers in the state have stressed the need for a processing factory in the state for value addition and adequate utilisation of carrot for local consumption and export.
“We need a carrot processing factory so that we can sufficiently use carrot as ingredient for making soap, juice, pomade and medicine as it is being done in places like Ghana,” Secretary, Sokoto Carrot Farmers and Sellers Co-operative Union, Alhaji Malami Muhammad, said.
He observed that carrot is more popular than many other vegetables in the state. “It is second only to cabbage in demand and supply,” he said.
The carrot farmers/sellers scribe said: “Carrot farming is a major employment creation sector with many youths involved in it. We have over 1,000 youths, who engage in various activities around carrot farming and trading from which they earn their living.
According to him, the carrot farmers /sellers union has over 4,000 members in the state.
He added: “Medical experts have even assisted to decongest our carrot markets by advising people to consume it to enhance their sight, so we have more and more patronage.”
Muhammad, however, lamented that the seed they use, is not available in Nigeria but has to be imported from France.
“There is only one dealer from Zaria across Nigeria, who is importing the seed from France and has complete monopoly of the market thereby dictating the price,” he disclosed.
Muhammad said a 100g sachet of carrot seed which hitherto cost just N600 now goes for N4,000 in the market.
“This is due to its scarcity and the Nigerian seed is substandard. The foreign seed is sweeter and consumed more,” he stated.
He called on the state government to provide loan to farmers or the co-operative to purchase enough seeds for sale to farmers at subsided rate.
On carrot cultivation, the farmer who noted that it is a dry season vegetable, explained that it grows after the rainy season – during the harmattan.
“It takes three months to grow to appreciable size and level and can be allowed to remain without harvesting for as long as 10 months,” he said.
On challenges, Muhammad said carrot at its early stage of growth faced the problem of locusts which ravage its plants.
“Farmers have to have pesticides before even planting the seed,” he added.
He also said when there is large supply, farmers lose a lot from glut.
The secretary called on carrot farmers to continue farming the produce despite the dearth of seedling because of its health and economic values.
Musa Garba who hawks carrot on a wheelbarrow, said the demand for the vegetable is high.
“In a day , I get N1,000 from a N2,000 sack I buy. People consume it a lot especially during the hot season. It is the season now, so I abandoned sugarcane hawking for carrot, that’s what many of us do. As far as we the hawkers are concerned, during this time, carrot overtakes sugarcane.”
He said they need to constantly water the carrots to keep it fresh.
Garba, however, said during rainy season supply diminished.