Saturday, May 30, 2020 7:17 am
By Bola Adewara
My first encounter with farming was when, as a child, I came to live for a year with my grandpa in a village. My second experience was in secondary school where every student offering agric science had a farm of maize. From these two experiences, I came to know some basic things about subsistent farming and also know that yams were not plucked from the trees and okro, dug from the ground.
Some eight years ago, I had a life defining encounter in subsistent agriculture one Saturday evening when a friend in my Church invited Baby and I to his house at Ikorodu, Lagos. To entertain us, he took us to the bar of his friend in the vicinity. That visit became an inspiration for which I am thankful for. This is an experience I’ve not seen anywhere in the past and present.
I am posting this for my friends to learn and take a cue. Many of us waste a life time, waste resources and opportunities that could have changed our lives for the better. We live in the midst of opportunities but carelessness, laziness and intention to be like the Joneses blind us. May the Lord open the eyes of our understanding.
The owner of the bar was a water engineer, who returned home long after his father’s death. All he could get as inheritance from his siblings was a stupid plot of land on an undulating topography, hills here, valleys there, sloppy, stony ground. It’s not a place you will buy for a penny. But this engineer took it gladly and made a meaning with it.
At a corner on the plot, he built a three bedroom structure where he and his family live. He did not bother to level the undulating topography. Each room he built to fit into the topography such that you climb steps up and down the rooms. He designed it so beautifully that you can be walking from one room to the other doing exercises.
Rather than cement the floor of the compound, or plant flowers, he cultivated it and planted vegetables, waterleaf, ewedu, okro, amunututu, red, green and yellow pepper, tomatoes, all over. The colours of the pepper and tomatoes gave the vicinity nice colours to behold. Taking us round his building, he said he ate fresh soup everyday. All he needed to do was walk to the compound, cut the vegetables, take some pepper and tomatoes, and off to the kitchen.
At a side of the compound was a barn of over 100 tubers of yam. How did he cultivate them? He got these cement bags, filled them with good soil and arranged them along the four sides of fence of his house. He had about 260 bags. In each he planted yam and I saw the creeping leaves of the growing yam decorating his fence, top to bottom, like flowers. He said he has never bought yam, pepper, anything from the market in six years that he completed the building. He created a walkway from the gate to the building and kitchen. Every other place in the compound is yielding something.
He had a snail farm made with tyres. He piled up about 10 tyres on each other and have about seven like that. In each set, there were over 100 snails, feeding on waterleaf, banana leaves, Ugwu, etc, grown in the compound. He had a big, wide, tall cupboard, partitioned into six compartments. There he had about 40 rabbits! There was also a poultry and a place for turkey. All on a plot of a land given to him in malice!
As an engineer, he designed the house to have a big kitchen which feeds the bar with snail, rabbit, turkey and chicken peppersoup. That was where we retired to after the excursion. He had a water reservoir fed from the borehole, so there is surplus water for irrigation during dry season. He said he is in continuous farming year in year out, regularly rejuvenating the land with cow dungs, the leftovers from the kitchen he uses as compost manure.
The engineer is not spending money on food, not paying rent and still makes money from the bar everyday! When we visited the bar years ago, it was filled up and my friend told me that is how it is e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y. The wife runs the kitchen, the engineer and a staff run the bar. Bros, whatelse are you looking for in a peaceful old age?
I have narrated all this so that you my friends will not waste anywhere in your compound, provided you are living on the plot all alone. Don’t cement any verandah, put it to good use. Get the cement bags and plant yams. Put planks together and rear rabbits. Put tyres together and eat snail. It takes a little effort. Wife, if your husband is lazy or busy, do something. That is why God gave you to us as our helpers.
I hope you have learned something…?
-Bola Adewara, journalist, inspirational speaker and publisher of Elifeonline.net, writes from Lagos
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