Firm promises great harvest for Kwara farmers, to migrate from peasant to commercial methods
FARMERS in Kwara State will soon begin to reap of the gains of the commercial farm at Shonga Edu Local Government Area (LGA) of the state. General Manager of the Shonga Farms, now a Holding Company Limited by shares, Adebayo Songobiyi, while showcasing the gains of the projects to reporters in a press conference in Ilorin, revealed, “we will soon start the transformation of our local peasant farmers to commercial farmers.
The white farmers had imparted in them the concepts of mechanised farming and agribusiness. The plan is to turn the state into the agriculture hub of Nigeria.
We are not looking back.” He added, “The Shonga Farms Holding Nigeria Limited (SFH) was incorporated as a holding company to the farming entities through which the required funding of he project is being made. The major aim is to facilitate commercial farming projects of the state government through Public-Private Partnership.
The shareholding structure of each farm is SFH 60 per cent and the farmers, 40 per cent. “Under the Shonga Farm Project, 1,000 hectares of land was allocated to each of the 13 farming entities. The farms are operating in three main farming segments: the diary, the poultry and the mixed croppers groups.
“Of a particular interest is the poultry group with current stocking capacity of 20,000 day old chicks weekly for the four farms.” Songobiyi justified the partnership with the banks, noting that the state government could not exclusively bankroll the project adding that business under the control of the government would not thrive due to its inherent bureaucratic bottlenecks.
For him, demands for the products of the farm were initially poor until the management team was able to sign Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with some milk producing companies, hotels and international eateries for the consumption of its poultry products.
He noted, “Initially, we started producing in large quantities not minding who would consume such products. But now, we have changed our policies. As a consuming company, you will tell me what you need and you will pay me upfront, then I will supply you the needs. We have totally eradicated wastages and boost our cash carrying capacity. We equally sell to those who want to buy locally as well.”
At present SFH is arguably said to be having the highest producing capacity of cassava in Nigeria, churning out 45 tonnes per hectare. Besides, while the average production of maize in the country is put at 1.5 tonnes per hectare, the farm in Shonga “with a special species of maize” produces 10 tonnes per hectare. Speaking on the existing relationship between the farmers and their host community, the General Manager of SFH said, “We are now members of the same family.
Our hosts know the names of all our farmers. We buy diesel from them when there is a need for it. We have constituted a community relations committee and that of the youth. We meet on the table to resolve issues just as their local farmers are allowed to farm with their foreign counterparts.