OR GETTING OFF THE BEATEN PATH OR MY TRIP TO SONGHAI, ENUGU
I did something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. And I want to share my experience and some pictures (mostly green stuff).
As a farmer’s daughter I have a deep love for growing things, and whenever I visited my dad as a teenager I always enjoyed sharing his pet projects, be it rabbits, pigs, snails or trying to grow an apple tree (that one didn’t quite work out). One of the memories that stand out the most for me was transferring seedlings of palm trees into a mixture of cow dung and soil which I had mixed by hand. No, it wasn’t because of the smell (dry dung doesn’t smell), it was because at that moment I was as close to being a part of creation as I could possibly get. So when I suggested to Chris that we go to Songhai Farm in Enugu and he said yes, I was ecstatic.
I can be clueless sometimes about directions and distances, but coming from Awka, along the Enugu/Onitsha expressway, the farm is on the left side of the road. Here’s the sign. You can’t miss it if you’re looking.
After minutes of driving along an untarred road, we came to a stretch of tarred road and Chris joyfully jumped on it only to get to the end and find out we had passed the turn into the farm.
Isn’t that a pretty stretch? In the middle of nowhere o. Forgive me Enugu people but I kept thinking, ‘this is somebody’s village.’
An old man was very helpful and redirected us.
We got to the gate and had 21 questions with the staff there, maybe they thought we were inspectors (later Chris said, ‘after all the drive wen we don drive them wan send person go back? I for just bring mat siddon for the gate’ lol).
Once we were on the farm, all I could say was wow! The biggest farm I’ve been on is the Captain’s and it’s all palm trees. There was everything here, man-sized pigs (I was too scared to go close enough to take picture), dwarf pawpaw trees (pretty harmless and with really sweet fruit from what we were told), cucumbers, beans, rice, fish, geese, guinea fowl, ducks, chickens, quails, pineapples, pepper, corn, pigs (I know I said pigs but they deserve another mention), pears, palm trees, plantains, bananas, etc, etc.
Yes. It’s a tree!
The farm manager, Mr. Timothy (Timothée), from Benin Republic who had his training at the Songhai Farm in Porto Novo and also in Israel (remember these guys, they make things grow out of rocks) was kind enough to take us around despite his busy schedule. He told us of plans to expand and include things like snake farming (yep, snake farming), grass-cutters and rabbits. They produce their feed and as much as possible use only natural fertilizers for their crops, compost mainly. I got to see the compost pit where the waste from all the animal pens and cages conglomerate and breed the fattest maggots I’ve ever seen.
Thankfully all we saw of the maggotery was the sign. They breed maggots which are then dried and mixed into the feed of fishes and other animals.
“In farming one plus one does not always equal two. Sometimes it equals minus one. Farming is not easy; it’s not a business of N2000 today and N2300 in two days. In a few years you’ll begin to enjoy the dividends but it is hard work.” Phew!
Training hasn’t commenced yet because they’re yet to build dormitories but it’s a part of their program.
My earnest prayer is that when the farm is handed to whomever would take over from the Songhai staff, the management continues to do as good a job as what is currently been done there. It’s not perfect, but it’s a better sight than images from some government managed farms I’ve seen.
Long live the agro industry!
Long live food production!
Long live akpu and nsala soup which likely started with maggots on a farm somewhere.
I sat down to type immediately I got home so forgive my typos and unsightly grammar. I very likely didn’t cover everything so if you have any questions, please put them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer. My gratitude goes to Chris for sharing all the “oh boy!” moments with me (Joan, forgive us).