This statement ensued from my conversation with one of my mentors, of course, he’s a northerner with big heart, a director in a ministry of agriculture, a friend, a father figure and my adviser.
We become friends at the outset of my agribusiness pursuits, he offered me lot of supports, financially, materially and psychologically!
I remember the first time we met, I had to secretly sent his phone details to one of my friends to keep his details for security purpose, I did this while we’re at food canteen at Jega, Kebbi state. His support for me & my business pursuits are very much splendid and appear excessive.
There’s a day he’s sharing his plans for his daughters with me, you can guess my prodding questions.
Till today, there’s no any business I would have to carry out in Kebbi or Niger states, I would just have to carry him along. He facilitated my local rice business, watermelon business, ram business, to mention a few. In fact, he’s the first person to take me to Argungu, Labana rice factory, etc.
When I encountered severe business challenges, failures and losses in 2017. I decided to change my line of business pursuits, then my efforts were solely placed on snail farming & snail business. Hence, my frequent trips to the north became decimated, one blessed day, my director friend called me on phone to inquire about my welfarism and business pursuits.
After the usual exchange of pleasantries, I mentioned my state of affairs, I told him about my efforts on snail farming, he told me categorically I should eschew snail farming, he couldn’t hide his feeling, he told me he believed I can do something better and I can still recoup my losses via backward integration, that’s, instead of marketing of agro produce, I should go back to farming.
I asked, “what’s your advice, sir?”
He replied, “Ismaeel, I know your worth, I know your strength, I would advise you come up here to join us in the north and try out your lot doing farming here. If you don’t want to come to Kebbi state, I can organize parcels of farmland for you in Niger state, in fact, I will get you one very close to Jebba.”
He told me he’s ready to offer me the necessary wherewithal I will need to succeed as he believes I can do well and make much money as a farmer.
That’s when he said, “Ismaeel, it’s only the lazy ones among us who will take money to market to buy foodstuffs, we plant what we eat.”
Tactically, I declined then but I later added crop production to my business line.
Since then, I have tilled hectares of land for commercial farming purpose, but I always forget to plough land for personal food consumption on a large scale, 2021 is a different year as I have assigned the tasks of personal food cultivation to each of my farm workers, one is in charge of pepper, another one maize, another one yam/potatoes, another one rice.
We just have to revive Operation Feed the Nation among the southerners/westerners. We just have to decide to plant what we eat, we all need to return to farm, start somewhere today.
My experience with arable crop farming on a plot of land shows that a family can get their corn need for two months from a maize farm of a plot size and it costs fee dough to get this done.
I know someone who doesn’t buy yam and yet eat pounded yam throughout the year from the proceeds of his yam cultivation, another brother told me he planted rice for personal consumption.
Sincerely, it’s time we take planting what we eat as a clarion call which could lead to a liberating experience!
NB: The Operation Feed the Nation program of 1976–80 sought to increase local food production and thereby reduce imports. Citizens were encouraged to cultivate any empty plot of land, urban dwellers being encouraged to garden undeveloped building plots. ~ Source; Encyclopedia Britannica