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Livelihood: Children cashing out on local manure in Jigawa

Some children in Jigawa State have resorted to collecting local manure (organic fertilizer) and selling same to farmers for a living, amidst the current economic…

Some children in Jigawa State have resorted to collecting local manure (organic fertilizer) and selling same to farmers for a living, amidst the current economic hardship in the country.

Inflation in the country hit 29 per cent in January according to the consumer price index released by the National Bureau of Statistics. Many parents find it difficult to provide enough food for their families.

Local manure is applied to the soil to improve its fertility. Unlike fertilizer, manure is cheap, available and considered environment-friendly.

Some children living in urban and semi-urban areas of Jigawa State have abandoned school because of hunger and poverty. Some now find solace in selling manure to farmers to help themselves or to augment the income of their parents.

The areas where most government workers reside in Dutse metropolis are Takur site Housing Estate, Godiya Miyatti Housing Estate, Jan block Housing Estate, Sha’iskawa quarters, and Olayinka Estate, among many other areas.

Abdullahi Umar, 13, and resident of Takur site in Dutse, said he collects and sells local manure in order to have something to eat and buy things for himself.

“I sell manure because sometimes I do not have enough food to eat to my satisfaction in our house. In fact, sometimes there is no food at home,” Umar stated.

He said he is into the business because of the hardship many families in the country are battling with.

“The current economic hardship in the country is the main reason why we (my friends and I) began to collect the local manure for sale to farmers from neighbouring communities,” he said.

Little Abdullahi Umar, however, calls on governments at all levels to reduce the prices of commodities so that his parents can have the opportunity to cater to the family’s needs.

He said his father has never left them hungry since he was born but “the current hardship has made it difficult for him to cater for the family.

childen making local manure
children making local manure

 

12-year-old Walid Abubakar from Shaiskawa quarters Dutse LGA, said he used to sell the manure in order to have something to do and earn money for his family during this difficult times.

He said “I am doing this because sometimes, I like to buy something for myself and my parents will not be able to afford it as they would rather spend the money they have on food for the home to be able to feed us, in this time your parent will not give you money to buy something, rather to buy food at home”.

Abubakar said he gathers the manure from different places until he is ready to sell to the people that patronises him.

Another young lad, Farouk Ibrahim an 11-year-old boy also from Shaiskawa said times are hard as his parents are struggling to feed the family and do not have enough to provide other basic needs for them as children.

However, according to him, he is into collecting and selling local manure because he used to see his friends selling the manure.

“I buy something that I like to eat, though I sell the manure at the rate of N400-N500 sometimes N600 naira” he stated.

Ikrama Ali Sanda also a 13-year-old said he used to get the manure from his house and sells it to get pocket money.

He said “we are supposed to help our parents because they are struggling and doing everything possible for us to eat and be satisfied, but yet sometimes we eat twice or once a day”.

Ikrama called on the government to help citizens drop the price of foodstuff so that their parents would rest a little.

A farmer, Rabiu Muhammad, who buys manure from the boys, said the children compete in collecting the manure for onward delivery to the farmers to get paid.

He buys a portion at the rate of N300, N500, N700 and even N1000, depending on the size, from children like Umar.

Muhammad said some of these children are sons of government workers living in semi-urban areas where they do not expect this kind of business to thrive.

The farmer said they prefer the local manure as they cannot afford to buy NPK fertilizers due to the cost.

“Farmers prefer the manure because NPK fertilizer is not affordable now. The fertilizer costs about N30,000 and above at the moment and not many farmers can afford it.”

Muhammad said sometimes, the organic manure is better than the NPK fertilizer in terms of enriching the soil and quick germination of seeds.

Another buyer, Lawan Umar, who usually patronises these children said women also engage in selling the manure.

“To my surprise, I saw most of the mothers collecting the manure from the animal hut with a view to selling it when the value gets to N500 and above,” he stated.

He said most of them sell the manure to buy food and other basic items needed at home.

This, according to him, indicates the level of hardship caused by fuel subsidy removal and naira devaluation in the country.

He called on government at all levels to address the issues as the poverty level is worsening by the day.

“I’m calling on government to come to the aid of poor people in Nigeria because very soon people will start dying because of hunger and abject poverty,” he said.

Dr Ya’u Nuhu Katanga, Associate Professor at the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, Faculty of Agriculture, Federal University Dutse, said local manure cannot replace fertilizer but can only augment because it originates from remains of plants and animals.

Katanga said though the manure is more environmentally friendly but it cannot replace fertilizer, noting that “Chemical fertilizer is formulated in a correct ratio like NPK 15:15:15, the proportion of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium each is 15% while the remaining 55% are trace elements and carriers.

“In the case of organic fertilizer, one cannot ascertain the composition of these elements as such, it cannot be solely used.

“Another demerit is that it is supposed to be taken to the farm early enough to give it time to decompose and release the element to the plants,” he stated.

However, “It normally takes around 60 days to fully decompose. And most of our farmers take the manure at the onset of the rains and then sow the seeds and by the time the germinated seed will require the ingredients, the manure have not decayed to release these minerals, therefore the effort is of less efficacy.”

On the collection and sale of manure by the children, Professor Katanga said “From my own perspective, it is unfortunate. It does not give any positive result in whatever perspective.

He stated that collecting organic fertilizer is not without some risks since there are no precautions taken to protect themselves from the health hazards associated with the job.

“It’s really disturbing when you see children who are supposed to be actively involved in their education involved/engaged in other things may be because the government and/or people have failed in their obligations to the children,” he added.

Katanga stated that the import of this to families, homes, communities, society and the nation as a whole is failure. “Permanent failure for that matter because no nation can thrive and compete among its peers when a whole generation of children face illiteracy and poverty.”

 

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