8 March 2011

Nigeria: Kila - Village Where All Men Grow Cassava

Kila is a village in Gwaram Local Government area of Jigawa state. Like any other village, the community is made up of farmers. However, these are unique farmers because apart from the cultivation of grains such as millet and corn for their domestic use, all men in the village are cassava growers.

Whenever a visitor approaches Kila village, the first thing that will welcome him/her is cassava. It could be seen spread on both sides of the highway (Kano-Birnin-Kudu highway) that passes through the village. Farmers spread it along the road for drying, before packing it in bags.

A recent visit to the village by Daily Trust Correspondent indicated that it has become a tradition that an average Kila man residing in the village must, in one way or the other, be involved in cassava farming. Both old and young men in the community are committed to cassava growing for income generation.

Daily Trust observed that yhr cultivation of cassava has become a major job in Kila village. An average man can cultivate ten and above cassava farms per annum. It was also observed that academicians, civil servants, politicians and Islamic scholars are growers of cassava in Kila village. Although some people in the community do cultivate Mango, however cassava farming is the major occupation of the people in the village.

Investigations by Daily Trust revealed that 80 per cent of the Kila community are cassava growers. Alhaji Nura Abdullahi is a politician, and indeed a Kila ward Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Despite his political activities, Nura is a cassava farmer.

He told Daily Trust that he is presently cultivating thirteen different cassava farms this year. He pointed out that this year alone, he bought cassava seedlings worth over N80,000. He said initially, farmers sold a bag of cassava at the cost of N2,500 and N2,700, but with the adoption of a drying system, a bag of cassava is being sold at the rate of N4,000 to N5,000.

"Last year I cultivated three farms and I sold the commodity before harvesting at the cost of N130,000, N50,000 and N40,000 respectively. This year I want to harvest it, and I am sure I will gain a lot of money at the end of the season," he said.

He explained that out of every five farms in Kila village four were for cassava, adding that, "80 per cent of our people are cassava growers , and findings have indicated that the remaining 20 were out of the business owing to lack of suitable market."

Abdullahi said had it been there is market where the farmers can take their commodity to for onward sale, those that were not in the business will also join the trend for profit.

Mallam Usman Saleh is another cassava farmer in Abena village in Kila area. He told Daily Trust that he has six cassava farms, saying "I am harvesting up to 100 bags of cassava every year. Last year I sold a bag of cassava between N4,500 and N5,000. But for this year I don't know how it will be sold."

"It is a helpful business because it has been assisting me in handling the affairs of my family. Whoever concentrates on this business will never seek for any assistance from other people. It is a lucrative business that is capable of taking care of a family, no matter how extended the family is," he stressed.

Another cassava farmer, Mallam Dahiru Shehu Abena said he has been in the business of cassava growing for five years now. He said currently he is cultivating three farms, and that he is expecting to harvest not less than 80 bags.

A father of three, Shehu said, he got married, constructed his house and bought a motorcycle all through cassava cultivation. He added "cassava farming means everything to me, because I make my living from it."

"I will soon take my second wife because I realised that with the boom in cassava farming, I am capable of taking care of two wives. You know we in the village need little money to marry a wife, and since I have a way of earning my income, I have no excuse for staying with one wife," he said.

Mallam Uzairu Abubakar, another indigene of Kila village, who has been in the job for eight years now, told Daily Trust that cassava farming is a useful job. He added that he owns six cassava farms, which he is currently cultivating.

Abubakar explained that he harvests more than 120 bags of cassava every year, and that he is taking the commodity to Kano, Abuja, Kaduna, Jos and Benin for onward sale. A bag of cassava is being sold at the rate of N4,000 to N6,000, depending on the size of the bag , and or how the market dictates the prices.

However, Government on its part is greatly assisting the farmers, particularly in the area of the provision of fertilizer and other facilities meant for easing the farmers' activities. According to Kila Cassava Growers Association, the present administration of Governor Sule Lamido has provided the community with necessary facilities meant for boosting their business.

One of the Association's members, Alhaji Nura Abdullahi told Daily Trust that the Lamido-led administration has brought three cassava grinding machines to area, noting that "although the machines are yet to be installed, but each machine has the capacity of grinding 80 tonnes of cassava per day. When they start functioning, 240 tonnes of cassava are expected to be processed every day in Kila village."

On fertilizer, Abdullahi said, last year, the Association had secured 40 bags of fertilisers from the state government, saying "this year we are expecting more bags because government has given assurance to us that we will get more if we apply early, and we applied early."

However, Daily Trust observed that cassava farmers in Kila village need just a little push to develop their business. They need Governments assistance in the provision of adequate fertilizers, improved seedlings, insecticides, and above all capital and suitable market for selling their goods.

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