To many, a business in Cow dung may not seem like much. However, on a trip to a farm settlement in Nasarawa State, EMAMEH GABRIEL finds the contrary while examining how some herdsmen are making a fortune in the Cow dung business. He narrates his experience.
While Nigerian farmers are going back to the basics with new techniques for improving yield and chemical free fertiliser, though an old custom, cattle rearers are beginning to prove that, where there is muck, there is brass-making money from cow dung. And while it is now the farmer’s pride to increase the quality and yield of his crop, it is the herdsman’s secret gold mine.
No one would have imagined outside moving their cattle from one point to another daily or selling them out to butchers, that herdsmen rake a fortune from cattle drops every day after retiring from the daily nomadic routine.
It was a normal working day at a Fulani settlement in Gaate, Kokona Local Government Area in Nasarawa State. Two trucks had travelled all the way from Kaduna State and drove in through the narrow patch of the farmland.
The two trucks were initially confronted by some security men manning the post at the farm settlement, as they were trying to manoeuvre their way deep into the other parts of the farm to their destination. Of course, they came to buy something of value to them, cow dung, and are expected to go back to Kaduna; they had to identify themselves before they were let in.
But they were not let in without a bit of drama. Farmers in the settlement, having noticed that the truck drivers are their major cow dung purchase competitors, had to put a radio call across to some of the workers in the farm to rush down to the nearby Fulani settlement to protect their own merchandise from these would be perceived rivals.
‘How come they got to know about this place?’ One of the farmers had asked some of his colleagues. ‘Someone must have directed them here because this might not be the only place they scout for cow dung’, another responded.
Out of curiosity, LEADERSHIP Sunday, on an inspection at the farm settlement in the area, trailed the trucks to where they were loading bags of what initially looked like farm products ready for market. Alas!, they were cattle dung, bagged, arranged in uniform to be transported to Kaduna State where they were to be supplied to farmers who had in the previous week made requests.
For a first time visitor to the settlement, the stench oozing out of these animal drops and the buzzing sounds of the colony of flies as they aggressively perched all over one’s body, takes only courage to endure.
What hastily comes to the mind when cattle dung is treated as some gold of sorts is this, what are they used for?
If you have even an inkling of interest in organic farming, you must really consider using Cow dung for having a great chemical-free farm produce.
Clearly, now farmers are trying to shift from using chemical fertilisers to compose manure not only for the purpose of improving yields but to make farm products chemical free and make them much safer for consumption.
Reports have shown that cow manure makes good fertiliser. Cow manure is rich in minerals, especially nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It can support the growth of beneficial microorganisms when it is mixed with soil.
Cow dung can also improve the texture of the soil and help it to maintain moisture. It is a most important source of bio-fertiliser. It is a very effective alternative to chemical fertilisers by enhancing productivity in long term with maintaining the soil health and enhancing the microbial population, several reports have revealed.
Cow dung increases soil organic matter content, which leads to improved water infiltration and water holding capacity as well as an increased action exchange capacity.
‘‘The change in the yield and the quality of harvest from my little experience is evident, says Peter Obgeide, a farmer who spoke with SUNDAY Leadership.
‘‘In a way, not only are the crops going to be chemical-free, even the nutrients that are present in the organic manure help in resuscitating the soil in case of contamination or in areas that are close to becoming barren and unfit for use,” he reveals.
‘‘We are currently using dung that comes from the native breed of cows as you can see. It guarantees better yield. We have been gathering them for the next farming season and you can observe that we are already spreading them waiting for the rains and then planting follows.
‘‘We are confident that it will not only fetch us great harvest but also amazing market sales, quips Mr Peter who revealed that they have spent a great fortune buying this amazing fertiliser from Fulanis in the settlement. Over two hundred thousand has been paid so far and we are expecting from them (herdsmen), he said.
‘‘When you have cows, you gather their dung for some period because people always come to ask for it, says Alhaji Saliu. ‘‘If the manure is plenty, I sell it around twenty to twenty five thousand to farmers, he said.
Alhaji Gajere, one of the leaders in the settlement said farmers come from far away places to buy cow dung from them and it has helped them augment their family expenses.
‘‘We have sold many this year alone. We arrange them within twenty to twenty five thousand and when they come, we sell to them. The demand is high now and it is not easy gathering them,” he said.
His wife, Jamai Gajere said they never knew there was money in cow dung and the business has made life easy for them. She said: ‘‘We use to think they were useless, but now people come all the time to buy. We have to go extra miles from here to gather them. We use part of the money to buy things we need and even drugs for the cows’’, she explained.