Gar­lic now gold­mine for Sokoto farm­ers …Pro­duce at­tracts lo­cal, for­eign pa­tron­age

Sunday Trust - - AGRIC BUSINESS -

From Rakiya A. Muham­mad, Sokoto

Gar­lic, a uni­ver­sal sea­son­ing, is noted as one of the most pop­u­lar crops among farm­ers across Sokoto State and one that is at­tract­ing great eco­nomic value in the state.

“Gar­lic is a sought-af­ter crop in Sokoto. Its pop­u­lar­ity is grow­ing by the day. Our cus­tomers ex­tend be­yond the coun­try; the business has gone in­ter­na­tional.

“We get cus­tomers from African coun­tries like Cameroon, Chad, Ghana, Benin Repub­lic, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire and South Africa which re­cently de­clared in­ter­est to come into the gar­lic business with Sokoto State farm­ers,” Chair­man of Sokoto State Gar­lic Grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, Al­haji Muazu Wurno, dis­closed.

He said peo­ple from other states of Nige­ria also visit Sokoto to buy the pro­duce in large quan­ti­ties. “We have cus­tomers from Abuja, La­gos, Borno, Adamawa, Kwara, Plateau, Katsina and Yobe states, who come to make bulk pur­chases.”

Muazu added: “The plant is also widely pa­tron­ized by con­sumers in Sokoto and it is vir­tu­ally like a must in al­most every house­hold due to its ac­claimed medic­i­nal value; it is ef­fec­tive in treat­ing cold-re­lated ail­ments, among oth­ers.”

A sack of gar­lic cost N12,000-N13,000 dur­ing har­vest­ing sea­son but could cost as high as N20,000-N25,000 af­ter short­age.

“On Thurs­days, our ma­jor mar­ket day at the Sokoto gar­lic de­pot, trailer loads of gar­lic leave to var­i­ous des­ti­na­tions,” he stated.

Ac­cord­ing to the chair­man, a trailer load car­ries 600 sacks.

The chair­man listed areas where gar­lic is pro­duced in large quan­ti­ties in Sokoto to in­clude Goronyo, Wurno, Gada, Kware, Il­lela, Wa­makko, Rabah and Sabon Birni lo­cal govern­ment areas with over 20,000 farm­ers who are into its pro­duc­tion across the state.

A gar­lic mer­chant at Sokoto de­pot, Al­haji Bello Mai Ta­far­nuwa Sokoto, said: “I have been in the gar­lic business since I was eight years old. Gar­lic is now peo­ple’s favourite, es­pe­cially among West African coun­tries, it serves as sea­son­ing in their foods and also cures cold re­lated ail­ments.”

Al­haji Bello, how­ever com­plained of high cost of trans­port­ing the com­mod­ity to neigh­bour­ing African coun­tries.

A sack of gar­lic costs N2,000 to trans­port to Ni­amey while it costs N1,700 to trans­port to Cotonou, Benin Repub­lic. He urged the govern­ment to in­ter­vene.

“We trans­port N10 mil­lion worth of the com­mod­ity to Cotonou weekly be­cause the business is mov­ing,” he re­vealed.

A gar­lic sup­plier, Malam Yawale Mustapha, who hails from Gei­dam in Yobe State, said he has spent about 30 years in the business and that it has grown from strength to strength and is still ex­pand­ing.

“Be­fore, we had to com­bine ef­forts to get a lorry load be­cause we used lor­ries to con­vey gar­lic to other places from Sokoto. Then, a sack costs N300-N400 to trans­port to Maiduguri. A lorry then car­ried 120-130 sacks at N5,000,” he re­called

An­other farmer, Al­haji Malami Wurno, who has 12 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence in gar­lic cul­ti­va­tion, said he started when a sack cost N5,000-N6,000. “Thank God, the business is get­ting bet­ter nowa­days due to numer­ous cus­tomers and more peo­ple go­ing into gar­lic farm­ing due to its eco­nomic value.

“Un­like in the pre­vi­ous years, cus­tomers are now mul­ti­ply­ing and com­ing from dif­fer­ent parts of the world un­like when gar­lic was re­stricted to lo­cal con­sump­tion.”

He pointed out that if a farmer in­vests N500,000 in gar­lic farm­ing, he can re­al­ize N1.5 mil­lion from it.

The farmer shed more light on gar­lic farm­ing: “It is planted around Septem­ber of every year and har­vested around Fe­bru­ary af­ter six months of ac­tive farm­ing in­volv­ing wa­ter­ing, prun­ing, ap­pli­ca­tion of pes­ti­cide and pro­fes­sional ten­der­ing. It takes 130 days max­i­mum from plant­ing to har­vest sea­son.”

He added: “It has about one-year life span thereby mak­ing it ideal for stor­age, es­pe­cially for those who hoard it to make max­i­mum ben­e­fit.”

On the chal­lenges faced by gar­lic farm­ers, the farm­ers’ chair­man, Al­haji Muazu, said gar­lic hardly stayed fresh and valu­able af­ter one year thus they need preser­va­tion and stor­age fa­cil­i­ties to make it last longer.

“Gar­lic farm­ers also need ad­e­quate fer­til­izer and pes­ti­cide at sub­si­dized price from govern­ment so that they grow enough for their teem­ing cus­tomers,” he added.

Al­haji Muazu com­plained of high cost of trans­porta­tion and called on the Sokoto State govern­ment to make trans­porta­tion fa­cil­i­ties avail­able to them to cut down cost of con­vey­ing the com­mod­ity within the coun­try and be­yond.

“Our as­so­ci­a­tion has made ar­range­ment to get sup­port from Sokoto State govern­ment to boost our busi­nesses through the com­mit­tee set up by the state govern­ment to re­vi­tal­ize agri­cul­ture and it has promised to no­tify the state gov­er­nor of our re­quire­ments,” he said.

Pho­tos: RAKIYA A. MUHAM­MAD

Sacks of gar­lic at the de­pot in Sokoto

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