Agro-forestry: Nigerian farmers can make N5bn from hardwood business

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Stories by Steve Agbota styvenchy@yahoo.com 08033302331

Nigeria is endowed with several tropical trees that are suitable for agro-forestry because of their multiple uses as sources of food, animal feed, timber, energy, stakes, chewing sticks, and soil fertility restorers.

However, in the midst of theses, there are some trees that being referred to as hardwood, which have potential to create employment opportunities, reduce poverty and can as well earn Nigeria farmers about N5 billion annually

Most of these hardwoods come from broad-leaved, deciduous trees. The main hardwood timbers available in commercial quantities are ash, beech, birch, cherry, elm, iroko, mahogany, meranti, oak, obeche, sapele and teak.

Daily Sun learnt that by planting trees and harvesting them at maturity, a farmer can make N10 million annually depending on the size of the farm as these trees can survive the inevitable hard times when the climate suddenly turns even drier and more hostile unlike most crops.

Planting tree for economic values is essential because 90 per cent of the nation’s energy comes in the form of firewood. Trees also feed animals, nourish the soil, provide wood for construction, and bear fruit and lucrative products such as gum Arabic among others.

As part of economic values and usefulness of trees (woods), it is being used for making boats and ships and for timber frames for buildings. Its bark contains lots of tannin used for tanning leather.  For instance, Oak timber is used for furniture, fencing, gates, flooring and for special uses in building.

However, there is currently insufficient knowledge and appreciation of the benefits of on-farm tree planting (and agroforestry) to agricultural production and farmers’ livelihoods in Nigeria.

Most of the forest reserves (trees plantations) in Nigeria are daily being depleted and in lull.

A recent reports showed that Edo State, which was renowned known for being home to massive forest reserves spread across 22 communities, has become a shadow of its former self.

Experts who spoke to Daily Sun said that there is urgent need for government to encourage farmers especially the smallholder farmers to embark on massive economic tree planting as 80 per cent of forest loss projected to happen by 2030 in 11 places, which includes Africa. Government must partner with those who are into tree planting business so as to give the farmers adequate training on tree plantations.

Interestingly, trees used as hardwood when processed are said to be quite profitable even as Chinese are coming down to export it to their country. There are countries that solely depend on trees as source of income. In such instances, all they do is planting, managing, harvesting, processing  and then sell to other countries.

Locally, people use wood for so many things and 99.7 per cent of all the woods in the Nigeria’s market are obtained from tick forest without replacing old ones with the new ones.

Speaking with Daily Sun, the Managing Director of Boluwajoko Golden Solutions, Gbenga Boluwajoko, said tree planting is a multi-trillion naira industry because there are some countries that use woods to sustained their economy and the lives of their citizens.

According to him, if the government can establish plantations in every state, it can be used as retirement cash to sustain retirees. He said interestingly farmers spend less on the trees yearly, so the farmer can make more than N10 million yearly.

He added that most of the trees planted by late Chief Chief Obafemi Awolowo and S.L. Akintola in Southwest are still there and they always bring great financial benefit to the citizens. He however noted that the the current political leaders have failed to expand the trees investment across the country.

Said he: “We have a lot of plantations of hard wood established by Awolowo in Oyo state and along Ibadan-ijebu ode road for years generating good money. If a tree can give you N50,000 and you a million planted yearly in every state, you can imagine what we will make from it during harvest. Trees like teak once cut, each one will reproduce two new trees.

“We have vast unused land but full of bushes that yield little income.

One can plant just 1000 hardwood trees for each of their children and use them to plan for their future, because the tree’s profit can pay for their children school fees; from secondary to university and support their wedding. But the trees plantation business is a long time investment because most people want quick returns and that is why they are losing their hard earned money.”

He said there are a lot of value chain in hardwood like clothing, books, furniture, housing to mention but a few,  stressing that agriculture is the only way out of the nation’s economic woes in Nigeria with good knowledge.

Some of the other local wood trees that can give farmers good money in future include, Afara Apado Erun Agbonyin Akokokoigbo, Omo Agba, Arere, Apa, Aro, Araba, Ayo and  Ayin among others.

He noted: “People in Abuja specifically the original indigenes plant cashew trees on their land and after some years, like four years, then they harvest part of the trees particularly the branches as fire wood . Note, the aim is for wood harvest and not fruits so they plant it very close, so every year they make good money.”

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