Kwara State is one of the kola-nut-producing states in Nigeria. It is popularly grown in Oke-Ero and Isin local government areas in the southern part of the state, among others
But many youths in the state are leaving it to embrace cashew farming, leading to calls from stakeholders for quick and urgent action from the government through research and investment.
Speaking on the issue, a kola-nut farmer in Kwara State, Alhaji Salaudeen Abdulkareem, said the situation was worrisome, and called for a strategic plan to revive the cultivation, which he described as very lucrative.
He lamented the attitude of the youths who have jettisoned it for cashew farming.
According to him, kola-nut farming is best suited for a mixture of sandy/loamy soil and grows better when you start planting with mixed cropping.
- Do You Have The Right Answers To Questions About Nigeria? (Check this out)
- TCN restores power 15 days after fire incident
“Some of the challenges in kola-nut farming include the effect of some plants, which stunt its growth at the early stage like mistletoe, which is called Afoma in Yoruba. It does not allow it to grow and ultimately dries. There is also the issue of bush burning and theft of nuts,” he noted
Abdulkareem, however, said kola-nut farming was very profitable.
“You do the clearing once yearly and start harvesting to be sold to buyers, mostly from the East and northern parts of the country, including Sokoto.
“Last year, I made N6,000 per tree in my one hectre farm of about 68 trees, other farmers in our place have 2-3 hectres or more.
“Those who come to buy it patronise the women that do the processing after we sell to them. They sell per basket in various sizes, but the common one is sold between N60,000 and N80,000 for the two varieties – white and pink. But the pink is more popular and costly and later sold between N120,000 and N150,000 after preservation,” he added.
He said maintenance of the farm included “weed maintenance before the first harvest in four years, and subsequently depending on the soil type. Though the first harvest may not yield much but subsequently, it increases. It may need fertiliser during the early stage but not after the first application.”
Mr Salaudeen called on the government to invest in kola-nut farming through a kind of anchor borrower’s concept and provision of improved seeds to attract investment and return the youth back to it, many of whom have left it for cashew farming.
“During harvesting we separate the good seeds from bad ones. It is not that the former is bad as such, but sometimes it appears sticky when it is being consumed, especially for older trees that have lasted over 60 to 70 years. They are the ones mostly used for herbal medicine for children.
“The harvest starts from the tree with a sharp knife, removal from the bunch before selling it to the women, who will soak it in water overnight or some hours and crush to remove the nuts from the shell. It is not dried but preserved with a type of local leaf, which can keep it up to one year or more.
“Those who buy from us take it abroad to places like Saudi Arabia, Europe and America, but most types of authorities confiscate it,” he added.
To start a kola-nut farm, Salaudeen, who is also the Kwara State secretary of the All Framers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) said, “You need a good prepared land and start with mix cropping with crop like cassava. You can’t plant just kola-nut only; otherwise it will do well and maintain it very well. After harvesting the cassava, you can re-cultivate the land and plant cassava again, and in two to three years time, it would have overcome the challenges of the early stage.
He said the “Government seems to have neglected investment in the cultivation of kola-nut. This is maybe because it is just for consumption mostly and not used in industries. The farming is deteriorating with many youths leaving it to embrace cashew farming in the state, but we can make it a huge revenue spinner with further research and investment,” he noted.