Nok: Where Ginger Farmers Are King
A visit to the historical village of Nok reveals a lot that is captivating. Tina A. Hassan reports.
The historic village of Nok located in the southern part of Kaduna state, became popular after the discovery of ancient sculptural artifacts and other forms of civilization, as early as 1928.
The discovery of the Terracotta human head is one of the sculptures that brought the little village into limelight about sixty years ago, after the original settlers left and the village became inhabited by the present settlers, the Jaba speaking tribes.
Bouncing upon the motorcycle, the popular means of transportation into the village, the first view of the village is an endless stream of acres of farmland, strewn with at least five men in each, with their backs bent over the hoe in the hands, as they till the soil in readiness for planting.
Women can be sighted planting seeds on already ridged farms, while the children are sheltered under trees, some of them battling as they convey head loads of straw into the farms.
Then a rusty brown roof comes into focus. The first sign of a settlement after about a twenty-five minutes ride on the motorcycle into the village, passing through two small streams that border the big farms from the village itself.
Alhaji Ibrahim Nok, the District Head of the village, and a prominent ginger farmer, said ginger root farming is very lucrative these days, because the rise in demand for the root crop has opened a huge market opportunity for the people of his community to better their livelihood.
He said to the people of Nok, ginger farming is a way of life because from time immemorial, their ancestors have farmed the ginger roots, although not in commercial quantities as they do today. Even long ago, ginger was a commercial commodity in those parts.
Speaking to Daily Trust, Alhaji Nok said, “The only people we consider as rich in our community, apart from a few politicians, are the ginger farmers, because they make a lot of money from farming and selling chitta (ginger). This is because ginger is our cash crop.”
“I have travelled round a number of countries when I was working with the government, and I can tell you that we have the best ginger, and there is no argument about that. So, you can see that Nigeria is blessed; we are lucky in Nigeria,” he said.
Visitors coming into the tranquil and serene village to see some of the historical sites like the caves, and the popular replicas of the Terracotta heads, are usually amazed at the huge quantities of ginger churned out by farmers at harvest time.
Nok and its surroundings is the base of ginger farming in Nigeria, says Rev. Domi Dado (rtd), who is the head of ginger farmers in the village. According to him, there is no ginger farmer that does not gain from the business – no matter how little the yield is at the end of harvest.
“I was able to build and roof my house with zinc within the period of three months, using proceeds from the sale of the ginger. All my children, who are now working in the cities, were trained in schools from the money I got selling ginger roots.
Some of the farmers said selling ginger root was not so profitable in the past, because they were ignorant of the degree of demand for the crop, and the middle-men took advantage of that in exploiting them; but most of them now have direct link with some of the companies; so, they make more profit.
In Nok, the bigger farmers harvest hundreds of bags of ginger, while the smaller farmers harvest between 25-30 bags at the end of the planting season.
Ginger planting in the village is done throughout the year, especially by the few farmers who practice a traditional method of irrigation, particular in the water-logged areas where rice is also planted. Many crops can grow and adapt to the climatic conditions in the area, but the most economically beneficial crop is ginger.
Ginger seedlings are preserved under the shelter of trees and covered with straw, to present direct heat from the sun, when the harvested leftover in the farms germinates.
The ginger produced in Nigeria comes from this area, and it has been rated the best ginger in the world, because of its high fragrance, pepper and oil contents. Ginger has gained ground as a global cash crop apart from oil.
Nok, it seems, has been blessed by nature and is destined to be in the spotlight, even after the early settlers who are popular for sculpture making, have long disappeared.
Culled from DAILY TRUST, Friday, May 21, 2010