Sometime during Obasanjo’s regime as the President of Nigeria, Bembe Aladisa sang a song begging foreign countries to grant him a visa. “Èyin òyìnbó, e wá fún mi ní visa!”was on everyone’s lips. He was not the only one who felt like escaping Nigeria then. Yes, I said “escape”. Nigeria felt like a prison to many then, and they would have given anything to leave. It was around that same time that Eedris Abdulkareem released “Nigeria JagaJaga”.
We are in a similar era now. People are hungry. People are angry. This is a season of change, but it is also a “season of rage.” Government workers have not been paid for months- my mum is also affected by this- fuel price has increased, and food is now expensive!
Tomato is now more expensive than apple!
People feel trapped in Nigeria, and there seems to be no way of escape.
However, some of us have become so dependent on the government that we seem to have forgotten that our lives are not totally in their hands. In these tough times, the solution I proffer may sound stupid, or old fashioned, but believe me when I say it has worked for, and is still working for many. The solution is farming. In Chimamanda Adichie’s speech on TedEx titled “We should all be feminists”, she said, “I never thought it made much sense to leave such a crucial thing- the ability to feed oneself- in the hands of others.” In the same vein, I say, “I don’t see why we should leave all of our planting to farmers.”
In this season of economic hardship, tomato is the new gold. People have stopped buying fresh tomatoes and have switched to processed tomato pastes, and those who buy fresh tomatoes have not stopped lamenting. To reduce this, when you do buy fresh tomatoes, cut them open, extract the seeds and plant them. It might seem like a long time but before you know it, you will have your own tomato plants and will not have to buy as much tomatoes again.
“But I don’t have soil in my house! My whole compound is cemented!” you might say. Good news! You don’t have to have a plot of land before you can have your own little vegetable farm. All you have to do is get fertile soil-from friends, horticulturists, farmers, etc- and put it in pots, cups, jars, unused bowls. These can then be placed in vantage positions around the house. And just in case you move from your house, you would not have to mourn the loss of your fertile soil and plants, as the pots can easily be moved.
We had a few pots in our backyard before this tomato scarcity began and even though our tomato plants are now dead, we have water leaf plants and rodo and whenever we need these, all we have to do is go to the backyard and pluck. Also, my father has a farm where he plants crops- maize, cocoyam, plantains, wateryam- we also do not have to buy these, and I can confidently tell you that this has reduced the amount we spend on food.
I have a friend who introduced me to an NGO where people are encouraged to plant their own food, and I have started going about making our backyard vegetable [pot] farm larger. If you don’t have one, you can start today. Just keep seeds of vegetables you like, and plant them.
My new vegetable [pot] farm will contain Ugu, Soko, Waterleaf, Ewédú, Tomatoes, Tàtàsé (Bell peppers), Báwà, and Rodo. Don’t be surprised if I start inviting you to come buy your fresh vegetables from me!
Tell me, what vegetables would you be interested in planting in this season of change?