Nigeria is blessed by nature, but the citizens have little or no idea of the treasure hidden just at their back yard like the one discovered by TAYO ADELAJA
The chance meeting and visitation to this wonder garden was facilitated by a colleague and friend who told me about the richness of the flora and fauna in the 3-kilometre square forest conserved by Prof Olu Odeyemi, the pioneer rector of the Osun State College of Science and Technology, Esa-Oke.
My curiosity as a journalist took me to the site and I was astounded when I saw a beautiful house and a man decked in beautiful white agbada who welcomed us. But I did not see any sign of a farm. The man didn’t look like a farmer too. I kept my cool and accepted the drink offered with the thought that my friend was in for a proper tongue-lashing if he meant this visitation as a joke. As if he was reading my mind, he said, “Prof, I told my friend about your farm and he couldn’t contain his curiosity. He is here to see the farm.”
He stood up and went inside the house, put off the agbada, took a cutlass and said, “Let’s go”. That was the beginning of over two hours sojourn inside the farm and I had to tell the Prof “Farmer” to let us call it a day because I was tired from walking despite my excitement, while the man despite his age was going on without showing any sign of fatigue. It is surprising to note that behind the beautiful house is the actual farm. The agility and strength of this Professor ‘farmer’ could not be matched by us as young as we are.
Except being informed or you have a pre-knowledge of the existence of such ‘wonder farm’, I mean an eco-tourist farm which consists of botanical and ecological farm at Ido-Ijesa, on the way to Ilesha, one will pass the place like I have done in the past without an inkling that such a blessing to our nation exist.
This can be attributed to the fact that Professor Odeyemi’s street and the road leading to his farm has nothing special that will attract anyone’s attention in any way to it, except the broken asphalt tar cobbled together to make his road at least manageable like every Nigerian roads.
The desire for the establishment of the eco-tourism enclave was kindled by the necessity to seek for water. Prof Odeyemi needed a place to experiment his findings about purification of portable water without using alum or relying on much chemical particularly in Ilesha where portable water was and still a gold.
As fate would have it, one Sunday morning, Prof Odeyemi paid a visit to a friend of his who had earlier sold the parcel of land to someone who was dissatisfied with the location, the land being swampy and water lodged. The man angrily came to the vendor to reject the land and demanded for his money as he stated angrily that he did not need such land.
What Prof was searching for in Sokoto as the Yoruba adage says is right under his nose, Prof who had been searching for a prime location like that for his experiment and research got the land, he quickly paid for it and that singular act led to the discovery and enhancement of eco-tourism wonders in Ido –Ijesha!
The first thing Prof Odeyemi planted on the farm was a well which supplies water to the neighbors. The well water is purified not by alum or any chemical but by the Moringa Oleifera, which adorned the enclave. He was the first scientist in the world to demonstrate in Nigeria and Canada the possibility of using sunshine and seeds of Moringa Oleifera for drinking water purification instead of the expensive and non-renewable alum.
His farm becomes a source of blessings to the residents on Prof Odeyemi’s street because they now have access to clean and organically purified well water for free.
Leaving the well, we moved to the Moringa tree which has been found to be the most important plant in the world as it has over 45 uses, prominent among them is the treatment of low sperm count, as the tree leaves has been found to be a good sperm booster. Little wonder, the tree which seemed to be under protective custody inside the main building is being threatened by those who so much appreciate its usefulness and sneak in to steal the leave which is being sold in the market for as low as N50.
For the enclave to be truly organic, Prof Odeyemi constructed a biogas plant which uses the organic waste from the farm for domestic uses like heating and lightning. “The post –digestion sludge from the biogas digester is being used for fish feeding, mushroom cultivation and as liquid organic fertilizer and as insecticides,” Prof explained.
The Biogas is about 8 feet deep and has no oxygen inside. Another item derived from the biogas plant is organic fertilizer. The liquid from the plant can be dried and turned into solid organic fertilizer, while it can also serve as feed for fish. The feeds will assist in the growth of the fish, it can also be used to grow mushroom. From the biogas plant, the liquid is so effective that it can be used as insecticides which can be used for public health.
“The insecticides can be used to spray crops like cocoa and mango, while it is extremely effective in killing mosquitoes and other insects,” he said explaining the different usage of the plant. He said that the pond in his farm “does not use pellet but the organic fertilizer produced in the farm. These fishes are fed with organic food and waste.”
When he saw that I was amazed at this discovery, he laughed and said, “All year round, we produce products in this farm.” He was moving towards the ponds which are so numerous in my eyes, then he said, “we have 16 ponds with an average pond being 100 X 60 meters in size.”
Interestingly two streams go round the farm to supply water for the whole farm. The two perennial streams run through the forest and can be expanded or turned to artificial lake or dam to generate electricity. The streams joined together to form a confluence on the farm.
Prof Odeyemi said, “We have fishes here that the sizes is between 100-150kg when weighed”. I said that is the type of fishes bred in Argungu River and celebrated too.
He smiled and pointed, “That is the hatching center. After harvesting, cross fertilization of extract of a female fish to a male is done and we have 40,000 fries from single cross fertilization. The fish here is different in taste, texture and preservation. Fishes produced from organic arrangement can stay alive out of water for days.”
The fishery has a big hatchery that produces fingerlings for the farm.
Welcome to ENPOST Farm- a short word for Environmental Pollution Science and Technology Limited, aka The Garden of Eden’
The 3km by 1km ENPOST Farm is blessed with thick jungle and deep forest which one might never thought of being at that place. It could be likend to Okomu National Park, Benin, Edo –State, with rainforest flora and fauna dominating the land.
The forest contained 150 different species of trees which have been labeled with their botanical, English and Yoruba names firmly attached. These trees are of ecological, botanical, economic, cultural, pharmaceutical and medicinal importance. Most of these trees have been found to be unique, special and rare.
For instance Rauvolfia Vomitoria Afzel Apocynaeceae Swizzle Stick which is tree no 52 called Asofeyeje-has been found to cure madness. The root of this tree is the only item needed for a mad man or mentally deranged person to gain sanity.
If a mad person chews the root of this particular tree, he would immediately fall into deep sleep and gradually regain his senses!
There is another rare tree which this eco-tourism enclave harbors which is called – Pterocarpus Osun Craib Leguminosae- Osun Pupa in Yoruba Language, this tree oozes out liquid that looks like blood. He said that with this tree, the liquid can be used to make lipstick, movie acting among others. Truly, when he cut the tree with the cutlass in his hand, the liquid that oozed out was like the blood in a human being.
The Akoko tree- Newboublia Laevis Seem- Bignoniaceae used in coronation and chieftaincy ceremony is among the various trees in the farm. While Erythrina Sengalensis De, known as Coral Tree in English and Ologbosere in Yoruba can be used for stamp and batik design. The root of the tree is another revelation.
A master’s degree student that was supervised by the erudite scholar researched into it and found out that, according to Prof Odeyemi, “the root can kill bacteria, typhoid, cholera, stomach ache and chronic malaria”.
He spoke glowingly about the student and the research, “One of my students researched into the root of this tree and discovered its potency in combating the above sickness. His PhD will be the real active ingredient so that it can be mass produced.”
The enclave also harbours a thick belt of bamboo. The bamboo stocks are so luxuriant and dominate the environment with shade.
With the propensity of giant trees comes the attendant mycology/mushroom ecology. This enclave has produced and producing over 52 species of mushrooms which include Gloeophyllum sepiarium,Cerrana unicolor, Clavulina crista, Termitomyces, Hipalopulusnidulans and many other rare mushrooms.
Cocoa and kolanut trees freely dotted the enclave while the bamboo, paw paw, cassava, Plantain and other arable crops spread across the farm.
Snail farming, goat and poultry keeping are part of the agricultural activities which are being carried on inside this wonderful farm, while palm plantation covered a very large portion of the forest.
Prof Odeyemi did not for once exhibit any sign of fatigue throughout our inspection which span almost two hours but he said: “I always do the walk twice a day, every morning before leaving for office and when I’m back from work.”
I asked to be taken back to the house so that I can relax because I was tired.
At the end of the tour, we had no option than to commend the agrarian commitment of Professor Olu Odeyemi for ensuring the conservation and preservation of the farm where every agricultural process are subjected to organic treatment. He pleaded that journalist should do more of scientific writing and research.
He said, “With this farm, the employment opportunities that can be generated from here are limitless. We can gainfully employ a lot of people to work here while students can make a lot of research that can further boost our economy because it is a chain and multiplier effect.
“This is my legacy for Nigeria, Nigerians and the generations yet unborn. It is the future of the city, the state and the country. All these trees, the fauna and flora therein must be conserved and preserved. It is a great asset economically, biologically, culturally, ecologically, botanically and medically. This forest will soon be used for carbon trading in the world. So I can never allow it to be destroyed or tampered with.”
Speaking further, he said that he set up ENPOST Farm purposely to provide agriculture and environmental education and research facilities for the nation. “I envisaged then that very soon there would be the need to have a place where problems relating to the environment, pollution, food security, water, power, agro/forestry and conservation could be solved.
“There must be a venue for research and where solutions can be procured for these problems which would be rearing their heads against human existence on the surface of the earth. And this is what is happening today.”
He said he would appreciate a private – public participation in sustaining the farm. He has been the sole financier, “It is true, this eco-tourism enclave is my dream which is now a reality. But this dream is not for my family alone. Like I said earlier, it is for the city, for the state and for the nation. I will not mind if anybody, organization and government join me in ensuring that this dream is sustained to serve its purpose of creation. It is now beyond a family affair.”