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I’ve no regret in quitting begging – Disabled farmer

Begging expedition has taken Alhaji Kabiru Usman Gozaki   to Lagos, Aba in Abia State, Port-Harcourt, Cross River and Ibadan the capital of Oyo state. His…

Begging expedition has taken Alhaji Kabiru Usman Gozaki   to Lagos, Aba in Abia State, Port-Harcourt, Cross River and Ibadan the capital of Oyo state. His begging was not limited within Nigeria as Usman had also been a frequent visitor to Kwanni in Niger Republic and Saudi Arabia to beg.

However, that was years back. Today, Alhaji Kabiru has joined the league of wealthy irrigation farmers in Gozaki, Kafur local government area of Katsina State.

Gozaki told Weekly Trust that he considered begging as a way of life for many years before he discovered that irrigation farming is more profitable and sustainable. Usman said “15 years ago after I returned from Saudi Arabia I came back with some money that I generated through begging while there. As at the time I returned, it was irrigation period and I joined hundreds of my colleagues who have been in the business for many years. So, at the end of the harvest period, I was astonished to discover the outcome. The return on my investment was amazing and I vowed never to go back to begging again”.

“Since then I have no reason to regret my decision to quit begging for irrigation farming. I have left the stigma and the insults associated with begging behind me to concentrate on something that will bring me self-esteem and other benefits,” he noted.

Unlike begging, where many people are only giving beggars their money or valuables against their wishes, he said irrigation is a genuine business that has no boundary for whoever has interest in it irrespective of disability.

In begging, he added “there were lots of disgrace and embarrassments because some people give us (beggars) their money against their wishes. You can detect that from their faces, but now buyers will come down to my village, buy my produce and give me money with happiness.

“Honestly I am proud of irrigation farming because it earns me dignity and respect in the society more than begging. I thank God Almighty for transforming my life. In fact, this is the second greatest honour done to me by God after He had made me a Muslim.”

Alhaji Kabiru Usman told Weekly Trust that he is currently cultivating about 15 acres in spite of his disability, adding that, “if there is adequate water in the area I can cultivate between 40 and 45 acres. We are facing serious water shortage in recent days,” he added.

Fertiliser is also another problem militating against our farming activities in Gozaki village,” he lamented.

Interestingly, Usman had adopted measures to sustain his business. He said he has developed the habit of leasing his farms to other farmers for him to buy fertilizer with money for his irrigation activities. He told Weekly Trust that, “I leased my farm to another farmer this year to enable me buy fertilizer for this year’s irrigation season. We are not getting adequate fertilizer from the government,” he noted.

He also told Weekly Trust that he is cultivating both onions and tomatos. At the beginning of his farming, he started manually, but he now cultivates his farms through the aid of watering machines, saying, it was taking him 3-4 days to water his farm instead of one day when there is adequate water.

“I have four watering machines which I am using to sock water from the four local wells I dug. We need an earth dam in this area to ease our irrigation activities. If Government can do that for us we will be happy and it will boost irrigation farming in the area. In spite of the problem of water shortage, I am harvesting 500 bags of onions and 1,000 baskets of tomato per season,” he said.

Another benefit of irrigation is that, it has made him to spend much of his time with his family than travelling to other states to beg. He said “I spent at less of my time with my family while I was into begging but now I am with them all the time”.

Saratu is seven-year old daughter of Alhaji Kabiru Usman. Weekly Trust met her in one of the farms helping her physically challenged father. She told Weekly Trust that, “I am always accompanying my father to his farm every day. I am assisting him to cater for our family. This is the only work I know in my life. My sisters, Hajara, Sa’adiyyah and Fatima also worked in this farm before they were married to their beloved ones”.

Saratu explained that she grew up in the family to see her sisters assisting their father in his farming activities. She said, “I am proud to be assisting my father in the farm because all he is doing is for us to survive in this world, therefore, it is good for other members of the family to join hands in any business he chooses as a way of earning a living.

“Although I was not born when my father was busy travelling from one state to another and from Nigeria to Niger Republic and Saudi Arabia begging, but my mother told me that they were not happy with begging because my father was always away from home,” she said.

She said “with the discovery of irrigation farming as a way of earning a living, my father is always at home with his family. I was lucky to always be with him both at home and on the farm. I am always willing to help him because of his disability”.

Weekly Trust observed that the major work of Saratu on the farm is to ensure that water goes round the ridges during the watering process. While her father would be busy pumping the water from the wells, Saratu on the other hand, would take care of the canals to ensure that the water reaches the ridges.

Asked whether she was enrolled into western school, Saratu said apart from Qur’anic school, she was not attending any school. She said although she was interested in western education, but since her father did not take her there, there is nothing she can do.

According to the physically challenged farmer, irrigation farming is a lucrative venture given the right environment and tools and enjoined government at all tiers to fight escalating unemployment through agriculture, while also advising the physically challenged to look for a better way of earning a living and abandon begging.

 

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