Sokoto — Groundnut farming is one of the oldest kind of farming practised in northern Nigeria but has suffered serious setback following the disappearance of the famous groundnut pyramid in Kano and the subsequent closure of confectionary factories using it as major raw material for the production of biscuits, chocolate and other confectionaries.
Sokoto has been one of the major groundnut producing states but a recent tour to some of the communities known for the mass production of groundnuts in commercial quantity revealed that while farmers in some communities are still into the production of the grains, others have since switched over to other farm produce like rice and beans with better patronage.
Some of the places visited like Jabo, Tambuwal and Wamakko revealed that people are still into the farming and production of groundnuts. In Jabo, Malam Ibrahim Alhaji Jabo aka Rosy, a major groundnut farmer told this reporter that groundnut is the major farm produce of the people of the area, adding, "Jabo is a farming community. There is hardly a family here that is not into the farming and mass production of groundnuts.
"I grew up to meet my parents and grandparents farming groundnuts. It is one of the very early crops we plant as soon as rain starts. After planting it, within a month or five weeks, we clear the grass. We would do that again after another month. Some do it thrice while others do it only twice depending on how fertile the area is. It takes groundnut about four months to be due for harvest," he said.
Ibrahim Rosy said there are two types of groundnuts they plant in Jabo, adding, "We have the type we called the lying specie ('yar kwance-Bahausa) and the standing specie ('yar tsaye-madani). We apply either fertilizer or manure depending on the type the farmer can afford. Manure is cheaper but fertilizer is more effective.
"We eat groundnuts here a lot. We also use it to do groundnut cake and oil. We also sell it raw for domestic and industrial use. We have problems of getting the seeds. We are planting the grains itself which is not so productive. We would like government to assist us with improved groundnuts seedlings. Our community is not too far from Shagari Dam. Government can construct channels for us from the dam to commence irrigation," he said.
Malam Ya'u Ahmad said he was a major groundnut farmer in the past but has now switched over to other crops due to lack of patronage following the closure of confectionaries in the country.
When contacted, the state commissioner for agriculture, Alhaji Muhammad Jabbi Kilgori admitted that groundnut farming is suffering some setbacks in the state, adding, "Though farmers are into mass production of groundnuts in Tambuwal, Tureta, Shagari, Yabo and a few other local government areas in the state, production is low in other areas. That is largely due to the importation of cooking oil from abroad.
"Sokoto State government is planning to buy machines for the processing of groundnuts into food items and animal feed. Constructing channels from Shagari Dam to communities for irrigation is not a small matter. It is capital intensive. I will advice them to embark on rice, water melon and potatoes farming, they will make a lot of money," he said.