ANKELI EMMANUEL writes that after all measures failed Goronyo Dam rice farmers in Sokoto State, they seem to have found a better solution to the challenge from quelea birds in the hands of an Islamic mystic, who tells the devourer birds to leave and they obey.
Hence, men have learnt to shoot without missing, Iweke the bird has equally learnt to fly without perching. This is an instructive line from Chinua Achebe’s popular novel, ‘Things Fall Apart.’ It somehow aptly captures the solution seeking module of beneficiaries of federal government anchor borrowers scheme in Sokoto.
The scheme, as designed by federal government was amongst other benefits aimed at encouraging farmers via provision of farm imputes and finance to boost investment in the apicultural sector.
However, rather than coasting home with joy from the outcome of of the federal government’s initiative, a large proportion of beneficiaries of the anchor borrowers scheme in Sokoto State are left with tales of woes over poor harvest from the activities of quelea birds.
As preparatory arrangement for the smooth take-off of the scheme, Sokoto state governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal had on June 22 announced that, adequate arrangement had been made to actualized the programme by providing 50,000 bags of high yield rice seeds to be distributed to farmers for free.
The incentive did not just end at that, the state government equally procured 5000 water-pumping machines at the cost of 30,000 each and sold to farmers at a highly subsidized rate of 10,000.
As expected, Tambuwal appealed to officials of anchor borrowers’ scheme to put in their best towards attainment of optimal success.
The governor further sued for increased awareness on embracing new farming techniques on the part of the benefiting farmers.
Tambuwal, who constituted a committee towards that direction tasked financial institutions involved in the scheme to be considerate in their dealings.
“As banks, you have to make the processes of registration easy to comprehend especially for rural farmers. Banking guidelines are a bit complicated for the people, so you should put in machinery that will explain everything in details for them to understand,” he added.
The committee, named State Committee for the Revitalization of Agriculture, chaired by Alhaji Chiso Abdullahi Dattijo in their report to the governor, divulged that, no fewer than 6,265 farmers from the state have opened accounts with various banks as indication of their interest in the scheme.
Chiso Abdullahi, a former deputy governor in the state added that, his committee received application from 19 inputs suppliers on agro-chemicals, fertilizers, pumping machines as well as seeds.
Enthusiastically equipped with these appetites wetting support of cash and kind courtesy of the anchor borrower scheme, beneficiaries in the seat of the caliphate went all out into farming.
But dark clouds of uncertainty hovers around their fortune having given in their best by investing what they got from the Anchor Borrowers’ Scheme and external borrowing into the farming of rice.
While farmers around the Goronyo Dam labored to see their rice grow to a very cherished extent and were counting days to a bomber harvest, quelea birds, the monster rice devourers took over their farms, eating up the rice seeds without mercy.
The monstrous quelea bird found mostly in sub-Saharan Africa by description is said to be less than five inch (13 cm) long and weigh slightly above 1.4 grams.
These queleas birds, highly mobile and in their locust like manner concentration of over a million flocks possessed the potentials of devouring over 60 tons of grains in just a single day.
As the birds nest in thick thornbushes within the perimeters of the Goronyo Dan, its destructive potentials became not just a source of worry for the farmers but also their immediate family.
The rice farmers having waited for federal government’s intervention on the quelea birds to no avail resorted into using deploying family members to scare away the devourer quelea birds.
For Muhammadu Kure Karangiya whose children are still of school age, he was compelled to put the school on hold and face the challenge from quelea birds.
Narrating their ordeal our correspondent, the anchor borrowers’ beneficiaries’ farm at the Goronyo Dam, some of the school age children found waxed in mud with catapult striped to their necks said, scaring birds is their new school until the harvest is over.
Some of the farmers who cannot afford to bring their children on daily basis to scare birds, were left with no option than to buy nets worth 3000 per yard to cover their entire farms.
That however was not yielding result as the birds often device a way of entering the rice farms from the ground.
Having weighed all options to attain permanent solution of the quelea birds’ destruction of their grain to no avail, the Goronyo Dam rice farmers unanimously adopted Iweke the birds parable by inviting the man who communes with the souls of the birds as the only remedy.
The man, 75-years-old Alhaji Musa Muhammadu from Zamua village of Sabon Birni local government in Sokoto State told our correspondent that he has been communicating with the souls of birds not only in Nigeria but also in neighbouring countries of Niger-Republic, Chad and many other places.
According to Musa, a father of 15 children with two wives, he communes with the spirits of birds, insects (grasshoppers) and some reptiles.
“I have chased away birds and insects completely from Abala village.
When I chased them away, the birds will move out completely in their millions to the next village, the people of the next village will call me, and I will come and send the birds packing to a farther destinations.
“Last year, I chased birds away from almost seven villages. I communed with the souls of these birds last year and they left Takakumi, Durubu, Alwale, Palaliya villages to where ever they can go and will never return.
“This year, I am here to chase birds and insects away from this Goronyo Dam vicinity. I am not learned in the Western education, but I am highly learned in the Qu’ranic method.
“I am learned in the Haliyi, Halita, Adimi. I commune with creatures
in the water, on earth and even stones. In the case of draught, I make special prayers that bring down rain. During excessive heat period, I make special prayers that bring about favourable weather conditions. When there is destructive wind, I make prayers that calm it among other things.
“I studied how to manipulate the souls of many things. I prayed using Seven Chapters to order the complete sojourning of anything including humans who are not needed by the society.