An Agribusiness/value chain expert, Debo Onafowora, has come up with what promises to be a permanent solution to the clashes between herdsmen and farmers, disclosing that his company, BIC Farms, has the technology that can grow grasses for cattle within nine days all year round, adding that the feed is far more richer than the ones which the Federal Government intends to import from Brazil.
Speaking with journalists on the sideline of a mega hydroponics training organised in Abuja, he explained that BIC Farms-produced folders are 20 per cent rich in protein and are richer than what cows get in the open field because they are grown from grains like maize and sorghum, millets, wheat. He pointed out that with this solution, herdsmen do not need to expose their herds to danger or fight with landowners.
According to Onafowora (deboonafowora@bicfarmsconcept s.com), “We just finish a centre in Benin. We are going to grow 3500kg; 3.5tons of grasses in a space of eight metres by 12metres. In open field you will need at least 200 hectres of land to do that, yet we are doing that in a eight by 12 metres space in a greenhouse under nine days. These are things we can do for Nigeria.
“So the government needs to be more creative. Make the environment conducive. We have the technology and are willing to deploy it. By doing this a lot of jobs will be created. The grass they are importing from Brazil is not as rich as the ones we are producing in our Green Houses.
“And these grasses they are bringing in still need water and large expanse of land to grow. What BIC Farms is offering does not need large expanse of land. It grows within six to nine days while the ones to be imported still needs months to grow. And the cost; we are still talking of how to save foreign exchange. The folder we are growing can be pelleted. You dry it and bag it and cattle will still enjoy them.
“It will give them more within a short period of time saving so much of space, water and ending the farmers’ herdsmen crisis. These will create so much of jobs. We have so many young men now who are working for use as fabricators. We use local technology; all the materials are locally sourced 100 percent and they are world-class standards.”
Participants at the training received practical lessons on how to produce food in a controlled environment and were given the liquid nutrients they need to set up their hydroponics systems and grow it without having to import any item. They were also exposed to one of the most useful plants on earth which is the Azolla plant, with which they can produce livestock feeds that is about 35 per cent rich in protein, make foods for humans, you control malaria.
Speaking about the next training scheduled for 10am on November 19 at Rams House, Okajaguon, along Dr. Peter Odili Road, next to Marina Guest House in Port Harcourt, the BIC Farms CEO promised that his team will be teaching the people of Niger Delta how to propagate a plant that grows on water which is very rich in protein, adding that they will be taught how to make use of the very useful plant to turn their environmental challenge into possibilities; take care of their environment; produce food for both human and animals and create jobs along the line.
“The polluted waters of the Niger Delta is not going to be a problem for what we are going to teach them because with or without the water; they are going to produce crops. With BIC Farms, the little fresh water available for them can be recycled with the technology we are going to teach them with local material. In producing fish, the waste water from the fish can be used to grow vegetables so it is an integrated thing which are complementary to each other,” he said.
Onafowora revealed that some stakeholders in the universities who at the very beginning told him and his team that the innovation is not possible in Nigeria are now coming for trainings organised by BIC Farms, adding that “People are now going for their Ph.D in soil-less farming because we made it a possibility. They do the academics part while we show them the practical aspect.”
Disclosing that his company trains people in the Federal University of Agriculture, College of Agriculture, UniLag and University of Ibadan, he stated that BIC Farms set up the largest Moringa processing factory in West Africa for Afe Babalola University, which produces at least seven products that are certified by NAFDAC and has become a huge employment creation scheme for that university.