I have this piece of land, which is about 30 acres, where I want to build a tertiary institution, Petra Institute. You can even see it on Google maps. We intend to run courses that would empower our graduates to be self-employed.
2. Early-child education studies
3. Computer science and information technology
4. Fashion and designing, and
5. Catering and hotel management
I have had some other projects at hand in two other sites, which I needed to take to some level before squarely facing the much bigger project. I also need the energy, buildings, and managerial skills of my wife for the project. I did the survey which took quite some money, and cleared the site which was quite some expense and moulded quite a number of blocks. People were farming on the land, but my family members told me we should start farming on it instead of leaving it fallow.
The nature of Innovative Enterprise Institutions in Nigeria is that they are to provide a bridge between the universities and the technical and vocational needs of the country. You are awarded a National Innovative Diploma that enables you to get direct entry to the University, but you already have practical skills you can develop into businesses. They are also expected to provide training for graduates who want to acquire skills to be self-employed.
We therefore decided to start practicing agriculture now, until we start the school properly. It will also act as a training centre for churches, companies, cooperative societies, and government officials. It is going to be so unique and beautiful that it will double as a resort and tourist centre.
Just before the total lockdown, we planted cucumber watermelon, pepper, vegetables, and garden eggs. The first to get mature were the cucumbers.
1. Agriculture is not necessarily a primary business
It is a secondary or tertiary business. You should have something else you are doing before you think of large scale agriculture.
2. Agriculture is not for lazy people, slay queens, or packaging young men
You must be ready to bend down and work and get dirty. I now understand why Obasanjo, the former president of Nigeria, was very involved in his farm.
I converted working on the farm to my own physical exercise, instead of running aimlessly in a stadium or lifting and pulling weights that I pay for. Let me sweat and make money.
3. Agriculture is not for the impatient person or hustlers
You cannot force the bird to lay eggs. You cannot force the cucumber to bear fruit. They will bear when they are supposed to bear; simple and final.
4. You must ask questions from consultants and successful farmers
This is very very important. Listen more to those in the business. They face the day-to-day realities. They know a lot of details. Avoid someone who does not have a farm or is unsuccessful in his/her consultancy business.
5. Properly investigate the person who wants to be your consultant or farm manager
This is very very important. Don’t listen to fantastic return-on-investment stories. The reality is quite different.
My manager ran away when the cucumbers were mature and refused to pick my calls for the last one month. I found out that he was indebted to so many people that he escaped from the town. I found out that the cucumber he planted in my land did not do well. He told me that a witch visited his farm then, and most likely, a witch has visited my own too. I told him it was impossible for a witch to hinder whatever I do. I told him to go and tell the cucumber to be fruitful. I went there and prayed for the cucumber to be fruitful and Jehovah answered.
6. Presentism is very essential
It is very dangerous and disastrous to be an absentee executive farmer.
I did not know that my farm manager had sold the harvest of my neighbour and run away with the money. I also learnt that the cucumbers he planted for him were not doing well. I assumed that he was taking care of the farm, and I did not go there for some days.
It rained and water encroached the farm from a nearby seasonal water mass. I did not know you don’t plant cucumber close to waterlogged areas before or during the rains. They need rain, but on a high ground. Thank God for my brother’s wife who went to the farm.
Contrary to expectations, the cucumber plants bore very many big fruits. My manager was expecting crop failure, but God gave me a bumper harvest. Be present in your farm very regularly, and pay attention to details; ask questions and keep records.
7. Cucumber is a funny/foolish crop
It grows like a fool and matures like an overfed baby. Only one stand gave us so much. Within a small space, there were cucumber fruits everywhere. My brother’s wife, my son, and one young man joined in the harvest. We had to harvest quickly because they were mature. Very many were left unharvested, and water had spoilt so many very big ones. The first day my car was filled; it was a very hectic harvest.
The next day, we were there with two cars. Counsellor Denis Agori joined the workforce, and the two cars were filled to capacity. We had cucumber everywhere.
We went a third time with the SUV again, and it was filled to capacity. Cucumber is an idiot (just like Money is an Idiot!).
I just returned from the sales of cucumber from our fourth harvest. I was not expecting much again, but my son and I were shocked. There were some plants that the runaway-manager did not stake; they were left crawling on the ground. I called them orphans. During the second or third harvest, I saw them flowering.
Yesterday was astonishing. Under the leaves there were giant cucumbers, very heavy and fresh. We harvested twelve thousand Naira worth of cucumbers from one small space. I would have gotten more if not for outsourcing my responsibility as a farm owner.
8. Select your seeds
Your seeds will determine your harvest, in addition to the soil type and care. Make sure you plant the type that produces big and long fruits. I will only inbox the type to those who are interested.
The species you plant must be the type demanded in your locality. If not, you will have to find a market elsewhere.
9. Harvesting cucumber is like cocaine addiction
When we got to the farm the first day, I was very reluctant to join in the harvest. You know the crankshaft of my waist is in the second-to-the-last gauge. The waist had seen so much stress from lifting patients, carrying books, and long driving to preach. I have also taken long flights to nations to do missionary work; some with very bad roads.
When I eventually bent down to pluck cucumber, the waist and my back were sounding like someone crushing cornflakes in his hands. But as you lift the leaves, you will see four to six large fruits; as you lift your eyes, another set is waiting for you. You see yet another one in front, and because they are planted in rows, you keep pressing towards the mark of greater harvest.
We shall continue the narrative in the next post.
God Bless You.