Nigerians dying of hunger

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Nigerians dying of hunger

Postby Richard Akindele » Sun Jun 14, 2009 10:55 pm

Nigeria's problems.

Nigerians are highly dependent on their government in a lot of respects. Farmers are no exception. Let's try to take an exploratory approach to solving Nigeria's problems without waiting for government solutions.

Without a doubt, one of the bigger issues plaguing Nigerians today is a lack of adequate supply of food.

What is the main problem with food that makes it so expensive for the average Nigerian? What can be done to bring these sky-rocketing prices back down? Can Nigeria achieve the goal of ensuring that three square meals a day is within reach of every citizen? When food is kept on our tables, productivity is increased many times over. A hungry man is not only less productive, he's also an angry man.

Nigeria is unlike places such as the Netherlands, or like New York, where farmland is scarce. Nigeria has a lot of land to grow food on. If you drove cross-country, you would discover huge expanse of unused land.

Why are these lands not being cultivated for food? Why isn't every square inch blanketed with food crops?

But then again, it could be that food is grown in enough quantity each year, but that there isn't adequate storage facilities, leading to most of the food being lost to rot and insect attacks.

Another factor could be that the farmers do not have an easy way to transport the food to urban areas where buyers reside. So a lack of roads to rural areas, could be one factor.

How about fertilizers? Is that something that could keep a farmer from growing as much on his land as he wishes? Is fertilizer even needed at all?

Other factors that could keep a farmer from growing as much food is farming equipment. Let's face it, a farmer can only do so much with a hoe. For serious farming, you need machines like tractors. A tractor is probably outside a typical farmer's price range.

Rain: A farmer could have everything he needs to grow food, but without rainfall, his harvest would be lean at best. How then does a farmer solve the problem of a lack of rain?

OK, so far, we've identified a few culprits acting against a farmer's interest. Fertilizer, storage facilities, a lack of roads, mechanized farming, drought, etc.

Can these problems be solved without government involvement?

Let's examine them one at a time...

Fertilizers: Fertilizers make the life of a farmer easy. He gets the powder, applies it to his farm, and he's done. However, since fertilizers can be scarce and expensive, what is the alternative?

I know there's such a thing as "shifting cultivation", where you grow one crop one year, and a different crop the next year. The first crop introduces certain chemical compounds into the land, that the next crop benefits from. Could this solve a farmer's need for fertilizers?

Another solution to modern fertilizers is animal manure. If the farmer also keeps poultry, or maintains some animal husbandry, the animal droppings produced at such facility comes in handy on land for his plants.

Mechanized farming: As it turns out, a farmer is limited in what he can achieve with a hoe.

Any serious farmer needs to get away from the idea of backbreaking work with cutlasses and hoes, and think more in terms of acquiring farm machinery.

One problem here is that the average farmer probably cannot afford a tractor in the beginning. A typical used tractor costs about the same as an average used car.

A possible solution to this would be for investors and businessmen at home or abroad to acquire tractors, and rent them out to individual farmers. A tractor is very useful, because you could fit it with different kinds of plough for different kinds of jobs.

Another approach is to use cows for tilling the land. I've seen this employed in Asia.

Storage facilities: How do you store tomatoes for example, to keep it available all year round?
One way is to can them. That means a farmer has to not only grow tomatoes, he also must have a canning factory. But how does a poor farmer acquire a machine that would can his crops?

Just like anything in life, you start on a small scale, then you grow as you learn more about the techniques. First, a farmer needs to find out how it's already being done in the world. Then he needs to look for a way to acquire the least expensive machinery that would do the job. Then year by year, he could acquire bigger and bigger-sized machines.

Effective storage needs electricity. Electricity is a big enemy of storage, since most rural areas do not have electricity. In that case, solar energy could be the answer.

Once again, the farmer could start on a small scale and expand gradually over time. A $1,000 solar generator is not outside a farmer's means. Soon, he'd be able to put up a $5,000, then $50,000 solar energy generator.

If the government is not going to help the farmer, the farmer has to find a way to help the farmer.

Once a farmer's energy needs are met, and he is able to can his crops for long term storage, he can then conveniently get the goods to the market.

A lack of roads, the enemy of transportation: For the most part, road construction is a problem that can only be effectively handled by the government. However, with an inactive government such as we have in Nigeria, what is the solution?

I believe a serious farmer could beat a path over which a vehicle could move goods from his farm to his buyers.

If somebody's farm is 50 kilometres to the nearest road, I believe a farmer or group of farmers could commit to clearing half a mile a day. That means in less than 2 months, the problem of roads could be solved. Gradually, pebbles could be laid on top of the bare soil, to strengthen the road.

Am I being naive to believe that a group of farmers could build half a mile of road a day?

Water supply (drought): That brings us to the most important factor in a farmer's life, rain. Many parts of Nigeria experience prolonged dry seasons. Sometimes you can only plant some crops during a certain month of the year, else the plant may not survive or at best may not produce a good yeild. So if rain fails to fall at the proper time, the farmer may go hungry that year.

One solution to a lack of rain is water wells. You dig several wells around your farm. You then fit those wells with pumps that get the water to the surface. A farmer can then pump the water out.

Irrigation systems exist that makes it easy for water to reach the plants.

A sprinkler irrigation system rotates and is self-propelled, consisting of a nozzles that spray water over large surfaces.

Many options exist in this area for the farmer to choose from. The farmer uses tubes with orifices, emitters, porous tubing, perforated pipes, etc, to get water to the plants.

Who needs rain, when you can use sprinklers.

When you dig wells around your farm, you'd need water pumps to get the water to the surface. Water pumps need energy to run. Since farms do not have electricity, you'd need a type of generator to power the water pumps.

One good solution to this is solar/wind generator.

The picture to your right shows a solar powered water pump. A water pump can either be submerged in the well, or kept on the ground, and a tube passed into the well.

The solar panels run the pump, and as you can see, water is being pumped from the well.

If a solar system is too expensive, a manual pump could be installed as shown in the following video...

I'm not a farmer. I've never been a farmer. But I do have common sense. I believe that the ideas I've presented in this article, are not out of the ordinary for a serious and determined farmer to implement. The key factor to success is to start small, and grow bigger with time.

Maybe this is all wishful thinking in real life, but if I were a farmer, I'd be thinking along these lines with a view to higher profits. Most importantly, the year round availability of food in Nigeria would stabilize the prices for the average Nigerian.

It's easy to complain, and lay blame at our decrepit government's feet. However, what efforts have you as a farmer made to change the status quo?

We've relied on our apathetic government for decades, it's time we start to take matters into our own hands by thinking outside the box.

A successful farmer doesn't have to limit his sales to the adjacent city, or even to Nigeria. Any food harvested could be successfully exported worldwide, using a website as a medium of advertising. Basically, the sky is the limit.

If you need more information, please post your questions. I know a lot about solar/wind generators, and water pumps. For instance, instead of buying ready-made solar panels, you could build your own for less than half the cost.

If this article has helped you, please give credit here.

Richard Akindele
Site Admin
Posts: 1120
Joined: Sun Apr 02, 2006 10:33 pm
Location: USA

Postby lexdino » Mon Jun 15, 2009 7:29 am

Farmers also need to be educated.
Nairaland Junior
Posts: 106
Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2009 2:13 pm
Location: Benin-City, Nigeria

Postby Richard Akindele » Mon Jun 15, 2009 7:35 pm

lexdino wrote:Farmers also need to be educated.


Which is why I'm doing the educating here.

Somebody would pick up my ideas and either pass them on, or put them to use himself.

Please do your part by passing the article on to as many people as you can.

He who stays silent, has accepted defeat. Our government is no good. So it's up to us to get things done somehow. They say when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.
Richard Akindele
Site Admin
Posts: 1120
Joined: Sun Apr 02, 2006 10:33 pm
Location: USA

Postby xdunamis » Sat Jun 20, 2009 11:30 am

Nigeria is unlike places such as the Netherlands, or like New York, where farmland is scarce. Nigeria has a lot of land to grow food on. If you drove cross-country, you would discover huge expanse of unused land.

Nigeria may have a lot of hectares of land, but are they available for those that are willing to farm ?
Nairaland Junior
Posts: 51
Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2009 8:17 am
Location: Benin City

Postby Richard Akindele » Sat Jun 20, 2009 12:04 pm

xdunamis wrote:
Nigeria may have a lot of hectares of land, but are they available for those that are willing to farm ?

We were hoping you'd share your knowledge on the subject.

Who owns those lands, and why aren't they being used to farm?

My guess is that land that is off the beaten path should not cost an arm and a leg. Therefore, a farmer who wants to purchase it should be able to do so without breaking the bank.
Richard Akindele
Site Admin
Posts: 1120
Joined: Sun Apr 02, 2006 10:33 pm
Location: USA

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