Farming grass is now a viable and profi table business, according to the Chairman/CEO Divine Rewardn Service Limited, Uche Sylva-Alade, In this interview with JOHN OBA, he speaks on why he engages in grass farming for livestock farmers
What makes this grass diff erent? Th ese grasses have high nutrients that help the cattle in terms of increasing milk supply, some are for fattening and some increase the meat supply. We have dry grass, elephant grass , corn grass and a whole lot of varieties that is good for livestock. Can this grass be grown all year round, especially during the dry season? We have a technology that can help called soil water trap.
It can retain water up to two years. With another of our product like a fl oor bond called polymer as a conditioner for soil that helps to grow the grass faster. In combination with water trap, it gives you express yield. So even in dry season, you can be sure that the grasses can grow to feed the cows all year round. So how long does it take the grass to grow? Before now, the grass can take up to 100 days, but with the water trap technology, it shortens it. Within 35 to 40 days you have a sizeable grass that can be taken by the cow.
Even when you cut, you can still harvest up to fi ve times in a year. The minister of agriculture has been severally criticised on his purported importation of grass, what is your view about this? Th ose criticism came out of ignorance l, he was actually explaining to Nigerians the problem we are faced with and how to go about solving the problem. We have actually gone into the cultivation of pastures to solve the problems of herdsmen and farmers confl icts and to make profi t out of the business. So do you see the growing of grass as a solution to the confl icts? Yes, because over 50% of what it takes to rear animal to maturity is provision of feed and more than 50% of what is required in cattle’s feed is grass and this grasses are available in Nigeria.
Th e lands are fertile to grow this grasses, but the pastures land have not been created for the nomadic farmers to grow grass and restrict them to stay in a particular place to feed their animals, that is why they are moving from one place to another in search of grass. If pasture land had been created in all the States of the federation, nomadic farmers movement wouldn’t have occurred. So our company has come up with an idea by taking Nigeria seeds that produce grasses and animal feed to produce better beef and better milk.
You can see samples of diff erent types of seeds here, of course there are some foreign seeds but 90% of the seeds are local and our cattle’s like this type of grasses. As a business man, how viable would you say growing grass is? Growing grass is a very viable business because the demand for cattle will continue to grow.
Th e minister just mentioned the number of cattle’s produced in other country, we are yet to meet the demand of Nigerians and our population will continue to grow, the demand for cattle will continue to increase and the need to produce for grasses will continue to grow and any man or woman trying to make this a business will never regret it. Because we will be able to solve more than 50% of the cost of productions.
What is the idea of the cost of investment and what is there to benefi t from farming grass? With about N250,000, you can grow an hectares of grass land, and with that amount you can feed up to an hundred cattle to maturity in that land. Th is will take an average price of N100,000 per cattle, which will amount about N10 million.
We are doing rotational pasture. You can divide the hectare into about 10 plots which means the cattle will feed on a plot for a week, so before it come to the last pasture, the fi rst would have grow. Because our grass regenerates in two to three weeks. So before grassing round the 10 plots, the grasses must have regenerated, so you can keep up to an 100 cattle in one hectare and they would feed well.
Looking at the kind of herdsmen we have in Nigeria, do you see the Fulani’s patronising your glasses? What the herdsmen are interested in are grasses for their cattle all year round so if you can provide the grasses for them, they would have no choice than to dance to your tone. Do you think they would like to pay for what you are producing, will they not say, it should be free? With what we are seeing, the investment is slow, that is why we are calling on the state and federal governments to push this idea.
And when the Fulani’s start benefi ting from it, they would be discourage from moving from one place to another, avoiding the risk of being bitten by snakes, wide animals, farmers fi ghting them, so government need to push it. So do you embark on pasture establishment and management? Yes, we embarked on pasture establishment and management for individual farms and states. Should policies still lay emphasis on grass and pasture cultivation or we should all together forget it?
Th at is very important, because many of our farmers, but livestock and crop farmers are ignorant about this opportunity, that was why the federal government was been criticised when the issue of importing seed for pasture planting came up. So more enlightenment is needed. Have you gone into collaboration with any of the states We are in collaboration with Kano, Kebbi and Jigawa States.
We are sure with this, the problem of herdsmen/crop farmers confl icts will be a thing of the past. So what is your advise to the federal and state governments? Governments must come together and outlined the steps to be taken as we are developing interest in establishing this pasture, other people should be encouraged to go into pasture farming so that herdsmen and crops farmers crisis will be solve.