Inside Buba Galadima’s rice, banana, soya beans farms ‘If I succeed here, what’ll I be doing in politics?’
Whenever the name Alhaji Buba Galadima is mentioned, what readily comes to mind for many is politics. Alhaji Buba, an engineer, has spent much of his time in politics. He, it was, that recently led aggrieved members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to form r-APC, which later pulled out from the latter and formed a coalition with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He staunchly supported Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso during the party’s recent presidential primaries in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. His candidate lost but is resolved to support anyone with the capacity to ease President Buhari out of the Villa to, according to him, save the country from total collapse.
Galadima is a well-known politician in Nigeria but only few know he is also into farming. Aside from politics, Buba Galadima has been investing money, energy and time in farming, with over 300 hectares of farmland.
He spoke exclusively with our agric editor, who, last Thursday, traced him to his farms along Bwari-Jere-Kaduna road.
While in his house, despite the number of political supporters waiting to see him, Galadima was still mindful of his farm as he kept reminding those assembled of the need for him to visit it that very day.
At about 2pm, the politician signaled to the editor, and they started the more than an hour journey to the farm.
While on the way, Galadima disclosed that he had invested millions of naira in farming cassava, soya beans and rice for quite a long time now but with little or no gain.
“It is not as if the produce from some of the farms are not good enough but two things are important if you want to be a successful farmer: One, you must have good knowledge of it and two, presence; you must always be at the farm if you are to break even,” he said.
He said he had no knowledge of the proper way of sampling soil suitable for specific crops; appropriate planting space, fertiliser type to use and its application as well as the agro chemicals to use. He, however, blamed this inability on lack of extension service workers, who are supposed to be available to farmers for professional guidance.
“In Ethiopia, there are over 46,000 extension service officers servicing farmers in different parts of the country but I don’t think Nigeria can boast of 5,000 as big as we are as a country,” he said.
Also, he said because of his active involvement in politics, he hardly had time to visit the farm, which, he said, also contributed to his unsuccessful outing in farming so far.
He, however, quickly added: “But now, I am determined, and I have gained much experience because of my previous trials.”
Galadima has, at present, over 300 hectares of farmland to farm various types of crops. Though not all developed yet.
Our first point of call was his soya beans farm. Soya beans farm Presently, he has planted soya beans on about two hectares of land. He tried it before but with little success. He now has hope of better output with the experience he has garnered.
He expects to harvest about three to four tons from the farm, all things being equal. Only this, he noted, would give him profit considering the investment he has made on the 2.9 hectares of land. In the farm, Galadima had already provided a large warehouse to store produce. Banana plantation Alhaji Buba Galadima intends to invest heavily in the farming of banana. He told Daily Trust on Sunday that he had already spent millions of naira to buy about 2,700 banana seedlings from an Israeli firm which, he said, was shipped into the country from India, few weeks ago.
Already, the nurseries, which are expected to be ready for planting after three months, have been under a-controlled environment in a greenhouse.
Alhaji Galadima said the soil on the plantation has been tested and beneficiated in order to suit the banana species, adding that over 10,000 hectares will be used for the plantation.
The banana, he said, would be ready for harvest 11 months after planting and thereafter at six months’ interval.
On the market opportunity for the banana, Alhaji Galadima said, the Israeli company, SCC, which at present has the demonstration of the type of the banana, is selling a bunch at N2,500 and people have to book some months ahead to get it.
“Imagine you have 2,000 banana bunches and you sell each bunch at N2,500 and you will be harvesting every six months; that is money,’’ he said. Rice/cassava farms Perhaps, there is nothing so disturbing now to Galadima as a farmer than his rice farm, which presently is under serious fungi attack.
He told Daily Trust on Sunday at the farm, which sits on about 40 hectares, that out of that hectarage, 25 hectares had been completely destroyed by a fungi known as neck blast which attacks rice from the neck and prevents nutrients from getting to the seed, thereby making it to dry off prematurely.
The engineer-turned politician-cum-farmer said he had spent about N20 million to prepare the land, aside from the money he spent in fixing irrigation facilities at the farm.
He is hopeful of harvesting something from the remaining farmland not under attack by the disease to recoup his expenses, adding that the loss will not deter him from farming rice.
“I have leant a lot and that will guide me in the next planting season. I was told by experts at the Cereals Research Institute at Badegi that it was the seeds or the way they were handled during planting that caused the infection, so I will guard against such issues next time.
Alhaji Galadima also showed our agric editor his vast cassava farm, which he said would be due for harvest by the end of the year. Opportunities in farming To Galadima, there are huge opportunities in farming for anyone that has the requisite knowledge and time to monitor the activities. With little capital, he said one can start something. He said if his banana plantation yields the expected results, that alone can sustain him and his family.
“All things being equal, if I fully develop my banana farm, my cassava, soya beans, and rice farms, what then am I doing with politics,” he said jokingly. The challenges He observed that farming in Nigeria comes with lots of challenges; from the dearth of extension workers, non-availability of appropriate inputs, security, poor infrastructure, guaranteed markets, among others.
“You need basic knowledge of soil type suitable for crops, appropriate planting methods, inputs application, best ways to harvest as well as post-harvest handling and all these are to be provided by the extension service officers,’’ he explained.
He said the issue of security is also very worrisome. Kidnapping and stealing of farm facilities have become rampant, which is very disturbing. His wish Alhaji Galadima, who said he has more than 345 hectares of land for agriculture, regretted that he will not be able to utilize all because of his age. “I am aging, how I wish I got all these lands early enough, I would have done a lot with them. I would have been a very big farmer.’’
He hopes some of his children will have passion for farming and make good use of the facilities.
Alhaji Buba Galadima inspects his banana seedlings
Alhaji Galadima in his soya beans farm