Garlic now goldmine for Sokoto farmers …Produce attracts local, foreign patronage
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.
Sacks of garlic at the depot in Sokoto