President Muhammadu Buhari will today commission the Jigawa State’s foremost mechanized farm – Malam Alu Agro Allied Company, a farm sitting on a 100-hectare land in Faru Village along Maiduguri road in Birnin Kudu Local Government Area of the state.
The president is also expected to unveil the tallest national flag in the entire country that is hosted in the facility of the company. The 50-meter-high-pole, which was earlier inspected by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, was adjudged as a brilliant initiative by the inventor and owner of the farm, Farouk Adamu, former minority leader in the House of Representatives.
The integrated farm, which the president will also be visiting for the first time, was conceived about eight years ago as a was of buying into the ideals of President Buhari by the founder, Farouk Adamu, a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
It is thus a direct response to the call by the Buhari administration on Nigerians to return to agriculture as the mainstay of the nation’s economy, rather than relying solely on oil as the only source of revenue for the country.
Speaking during his inspection visit to the farm in 2021, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the initiator, Alhaji Farouk, “used one stone to kill two birds” by showcasing successes in agriculture and tourism.
“He is not only showcasing success in agriculture, he is also helping to make Jigawa a choice destination for tourists by erecting the tallest Nigerian flagpole in the country,” Alhaji Lai had said.
Mansur Da’u Aliyu, the company’s Group General Manager (GGM), explained that within the farm area, there is over 10,000 square metre fully automated soilless greenhouse where tomatoes are produced.
“We have two 250 square metre greenhouses also, where we produce other greenhouse vegetables and another 500 square metre greenhouse which is being used as a nursery.
“These greenhouses are all foreign-oriented which have been installed to produce a variety of vegetables. The 10,000 square automated soilless greenhouses, we produce only tomatoes from there, and we produce an average of 10- 11 tons of tomatoes every week. We also have another 10,000 square metre locally fabricated greenhouse around here. We also have a livestock section, where we have about 300 herds of cattle, some camels, goats and sheep.
“We have also a fishery unit where we have about 50,000 fishes in our pond. In addition to this, we, have, in the last one year, installed a forty-ton per hour fertilizer blending plant. We commenced production on the 14th of July, 2020, and from there on, we produce close to 300 loads of NPK fertilizer under the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative.
“Let me quickly also mention that we have imported equipment for the installation of 120,000 capacity poultry system. We hope to be producing between 3,000-4,000 crates of eggs daily,” he said.
The farm, he further stated, has a diary production plant, which is for the production of about 2000 litres of milk a day, adding that there are about 150-200 hectares of land elsewhere that is meant for open field farming for cultivation of rice and other crops.
Aliyu disclosed that the major clientele for the tomato are premium customers, notably big hotels in Abuja, Lagos, and some other locations.
He, however, added that the main market for the products was mainly in the eastern part of the country, such as Enugu, Onitsha, Owerri.
He said besides the few customers they have in Kano, their tomato products are rarely seen in the local markets for some reason. First is the fact that the tomato produced from the farm is of special species and the second reason is the fact that, Jigawa is a major tomato-producing area.
“Whenever you see our products in the market, it distinguishes itself, it is certainly different from the normal tomato you see around the markets, so it goes to the highest bidder; someone that can afford to buy and the quantity too. It is not the same thing as the normal tomato you see around. It’s certainly different, it looks healthier and certainly more nutritious’’, he said.
On the average life span of their tomato products, he said, “If you give the tomato all that it requires, I mean nutritional supplements while it is growing, if you give it all those things, this tomato could last up to three weeks post-harvest, without going bad like your normal tomato would. Even without that, it lasts for a minimum of one week, not under any refrigeration, but surely not under intense pressure and heat. You can keep it on the table where you have good ventilation. It can last an average of 10 days, but with everything provided, as required, all nutrients, it could last up to one month; this we have experimented,” he said.
The farm is also a source of employment for as many as 200 people in the village where it is situated.
Outside these, he said the company got some people to visit the area and train the youths on information technology (IT) skills.
The Group General Manager added that most of the equipment being used on the farm were imported from the Republic of Turkey, except the fertilizer blending machine which was brought in from China.
“Even the farming method is modeled after the Turkish style of operation, because we have a Turkish partner that is helping in maintaining the standards’’ he admits, but quickly added that the company was conscious of the need to have Nigerians run the technical aspect of the operations.
“The technical partners are not the ones manning this place, we are doing it ourselves. It is only in greenhouses that we have one foreigner and that was part of the contract when we purchased these things from them. Someone will have to be here to impart this knowledge and we have attached our local engineer to learn from them’’, he added.
He further stated that the company has been developing on its own without borrowing money from any source.
For Mansur Aliyu, youths in Nigeria have no excuse to remain unemployed with the opportunity provided by agriculture, noting that those hoping to secure a white-collar job should adjust to reality and go back to agriculture.
He believes Nigeria is now doing what it ought to have done a long time ago, saying if the country had taken this step, the current economic crisis would have been averted.