Osin: Kwara’s community of dry season farming
Osin, a community in Kwara State, is a home of dry season farming. As soon as the rain vanishes, the community becomes bubbling and begins to play host to farmers from various parts of the state and beyond. recently takes a tour of the community, which ha
The most vibrant, surest and the most enduring path to Nigeria’s self sustainability, accordding to many economists, remains agriculture because of the intrinsic potentials offered by the sector. Nigeria, with over 80 million hectares of arable land, accounting for about 23% of arable land across all of West Africa, it is certain that the opportunities are abundantly limitless.
With the right skills and wherewithal deployed, agrobusiness is unarguably the most profitable business venture one could embark upon both during dry and rainy season.
Though the commonest period most farmers embark on planting is during rainy season, dry season farming is equally becoming increasingly popular in Nigeria, especially with the support from the Lower Niger River Basin Development Authority which assists farmers by way of constructing irrigation channels.
In Kwara, one of the renowned agrarian states of Nigeria, Daily Trust reports that many farmers have come to adopt dry season farming to boost their harvests for the year. In fact, with the existence of a dry season farming village of Osin, a community of about 30 kilometres away from Ilorin, the State capital, located in Ilorin East Local Government Area of the state, this type of farming has attained increased popularity.
There is no hard and fast rule between dry season and rainy season farming except the period the farming takes place. Generally, farmers embark on cultivation during rainy season when they are sure of the natural rainfall that would wet their farms and ease their burden; farming in dry season is an entirely different approach as the plantation will have to be irrigated from time to time.
This type of farming, according to Mallam Nuhu Saidu, Secretary of the farming community, is what is popular in Osin village.
Speaking with our correspondent, Saidu said: “The truth about this place is that dry season farming thrives here. All thanks to the Niger River Basin Development Authority which provided us with dams.”
There are three dams located in the community which serve as sources of water for irrigation farmering in the area. Already farmers from various ethnic groups, towns, communities and states have congregated in the community since last year as soon as the rainy season disappeared.
The farmers reside in various huts and shacks built in the community with their family members. The place is like a melting point for people of various cultural backgrounds and tribes and they have cohabited peacefully and harmoniously over the years.
Farmers in Osin community have contributed to food production by planting cabbage, lettuce, tomato, maize, cucumber, rice, vegetables, and carrot, Okra, among others.
One of the farmers, Umoru Hassan said he planted onions, tomatoes, Okra, sugarcane, rice and maize on his three hectares of farmland, adding that he sold a bag of Okra for N2, 500 or N3, 000 depending on the bargaining power.
On his part, Dan Odijie said, “I specialise in planting food crops like Cassava, Maize and I also plant vegetables.”
Also, Samuel Faajir told our correspondent that he planted cucumber, pepper, and tomatoes, saying, “I came to this area two years ago and I think I like it here. I made profit from my almost two hectares of land and I plant all year round, I mean, dry and rainy season.”
On the challenges being faced by farmers in the community, the Secretary said: “The challenges are numerous. The number one problem is finance, which has been the greatest problem we face year- in –year- out. Also, farm implements and inputs like fertiliser are not adequate.
“Many of our farmers here cannot afford to buy more than two to three bags of fertiliser in a season. Some buy a bag and share amongst themselves. During the last Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES), some of us registered but could not get the inputs due to some computer errors and illiteracy on the part of some of the farmers. Those that were lucky got theirs during the rainy season which was already late.”
He called on the state government to complement the Federal Government’s efforts to develop the unutiliSed areas of the community where there is water and soil good for irrigation farming. He said apart from generating more employments, they would also generate revenue.
Other farmers’ say the challenges border on finance, calling on governments, at all levels, to ease the process of securing loans by farmers. They described inadequate finance as the greatest constraint to peasant farmers.
The Village Head of the community, Malam Saliu Akanni, who is also a farmer, described Osin as a farmer-friendly and peaceful community: “We have tribes like the Zurus, Hausas, Bassas, Tivs, Nupes, Fulanis, Ghanaians, and Kaiama people that are co-habiting peacefully as farmers.
“I am also a farmer and I planted groundnut this season which was badly affected by the rain break. I also plant Yam, Cassava and Cowpea. We have a lot of land here, it is only for government and individuals to come and invest here as our land is readily available.”
One of the several machines pumping water to farms at Osin irrigation area