Traditionally agriculture in Nigeria is subsistence agriculture and suffers from poor crop yields, a variety of crop pests, and post harvest losses of up to 40% because of inadequate storage facilities. The farm school is trying to change this subsistence approach into a an agribusiness and wants to encourage its farmers to plant new varieties, try out new techniques and to plant a diverse range of crops to ensure a regular and continuing source of food and income.
Typical crops we saw when we were there in early November were oil palm (which gives the oil used for cooking in most of Nigeria), sesame, chilli pepper (which, as far as I can taste, is used in every Nigerian dish), guinea corn (dawa in Hausa) taller than a man, citrus (lemon and oranges (which we had each morning for breakfast) , enormous flouted pumpkins (goye ), okra/ladies fingers (kubewa), rice (shinkafa – and the first paddy field I have seen since India!) and the ubiquitous yam (doya). Everyone of the volunteers harvested a yam - yes even me - which was then cooked for our evening meal, and I can tell you I wouldn’t want to be doing that all day! There is no yam harvester other than a human being with a large hand hoe – back breaking work as you have to hack away carefully so as not to damage the tuber.
They have a small but growing herbal business growing various herbs such as Artemesia which is drank as a malaria cure, Vinca rosacea for high blood pressure and something they called black stone which is a boiled thigh bone of a cow and which is used against snake bites.