‘We want people to get vegetables fresh anytime’
Icall myself a new age farmer. New age farmer because people like me who have been to school, people expect us to go for white collar jobs but instead I am farming and farming is stereotyped to certain kind of people in the village, the old people with their hoes on their shoulders and that kind of stuff. But I am different, educated yet on the farm and that is a strange picture
What specific activity do you do?
We focus mainly on vegetable farming. All sorts of vegetables and that is because we have identified the importance of vegetables in our lifestyle and also our health. So we focus more on that and we try to get other people to do same as, apart from being food, they are also important to our health.
What sort of vegetables?
I mean spinach, tomato, cucumber, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower. Some of them are considered exotic but they are very common where I farm. Even fruits like strawberry, raspberry, blackberries, these are all considered exotic you know and most of the time we use them we import them, but we can grow them here and use them for our benefit.
You do all these on the Plateau where the weather is more temperate?
The weather in Jos is very helpful for all these, the strawberries, even the cauliflower, broccoli, they all like cool weather and Jos is very cool and conducive that is why in Nigeria, because of its conducive weather, Jos can thrive with all these farming activities.
I understand that you are also into organic farming. What sort of organic farming practice are you into?
When you talk of organic farming, it is in trying to produce and preserve produce with very little or no chemical intervention because these things may have an effect even on consumers when they are used excessively. So organic farming is all in a bid to try and reduce the use of these chemicals, if possible try and eliminate them a 100 percent.
You mean in terms fertiliser, pesticide etc?
Yes, chemical fertiliser, pesticides and all those things you use to enhance the produce.
How then do you deal with insect infestation and the challenge of the fertiliser needs of some crops?
Well, on fertiliser needs, natural compost is the answer whereby you dump organic things and let them decompose. Food waste, crop waste and all those things that decompose and then manure from chicken droppings, cow droppings, horse droppings etc. So we try to create a system whereby we collect these things from various farms and use as fertiliser on our soil and with that you find that you do not need to apply chemical fertiliser, so that is one way. We also consider using natural things that can be used as pesticides and insecticides and there are some other crops that have instant repellent properties like celery which has this property, same with parsley even onion. All these things with odour. And there are ways you can blend these things and mix and add liquid to them use as insecticides on your crops and that way you do not need chemical application on your crops.
With more research we could find more ways of organically dealing with insects and pests on our farms.
But is there a demand for organic products; is it worthwhile for the farmer to take the trouble to produce organically?
Well, there is the market because right now you find a new awareness about healthy living, healthy lifestyle and this is something that is already advanced in the developed world. Now in Nigeria, the awareness is starting to come so people will appreciate the extra effort by those farmers who produce organic food and vegetables. And apart from them even the expatriates that are here and who have that knowledge they want to know that they can get whatever they want whenever they are in Nigeria, so we will fill that gap