The sweetness of Permaculture cannot be overemphasised.
Imagine stepping out to the backyard, and right before you there tomatoes and oranges and mangoes and cashews growing wildly. Imagine the shade and fresh air that comes with this beautiful scenery.
Close your eyes for a moment and feel the wind caress your body. Escape from the hustle and bustle of the urban life. Replace the urban noise with songs, chirps and tweets of rare birds that grace your Food Forest Reserve for the seeds and sweet nectar that these plants provide.
My name is Stanley Oranika, a 33-year-old Nigerian by origin, living and working in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja. I am a product of Kings College Lagos, alma mater of the presently serving Minister of Agriculture (Chief Audu Ogbe).
I am a Microbiologist and Brewing Technologist by profession with further studies in Oceanography at the Federal School of Fisheries and Marine Technology, Victoria Island, Lagos.
I was enraptured by the beauty of the coexisting biodiversity. Ever since then, my life’s major goal has been protection of Mother Earth through preservation of her flora, fauna, wildlife, and natural resources. This goal has taken me on a journey to visit IITA, Ibadan, a major influencer for this project.
My project is centred around the creation of a Green Zone based on a Self-Sustaining Ecosystem Model (SSEM). This Green Zone will eventually become a food forest which will ultimately provide food, jobs and an Agricultural Research Development Area.
It is an initiative to inspire the offshoot of many other Self Sustaining Food Forest Ecosystems (SSFFE) across other geographical zones in my country.
Already I have received approval from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to begin this project. A land area of approximately 200 hectares has been mapped out and approved for this project. This area of land shall be walled off and permaculture practices shall be adhered to, creating a natural forest that will be self-sustaining within a time span of 4 years.
My plan is to get stakeholders involved who will bring forth the best practices and skills to ensure the success of this project. So far, I have established correspondence with representatives of IFAD, NCF, IITA, FAO, and the Permaculture Institute, Australia.
With good guidance, this project will be kicked off and successfully deployed within 6 months.
The model I propose is realistic and has been achieved in far dryer climates, as shown by Geoff Lawton in some of his short videos. He has proven that nature is ready to give back in abundance, if we can effectively apply the principles she has laid down in her natural ecosystems.
Imagine what impact one visit to a Nature Reserve had on a 1-year-old child. This is what I want for many other young people.
The positive socio-economic impact of this project on my community will be huge. This programme will create an influx of agricultural tourists as well as create jobs for the indigenous people. This will drive commerce, trade and urbanisation within the area.
Because this will be a learning centre, knowledge from this programme will inspire local citizens to practice the same techniques, which will eventually increase their financial productivity from cash crops over the years.
My main motivation for this project includes offsetting greenhouse gases and carbon emissions due to industrial practices. This is in line with the Paris Agreement on the reduction of Climate Change.
Creating food and job security, I will be able to effectively direct the production of beverages with the materials sourced from this forest farm.
Furthermore, the medicinal value of the some of the crops that will grow here is very important to every stakeholder.
The ambience and modern nature of the proposed site intends to inspire young ones to delve into practices of sustainable agriculture. This shall be achieved by creating an oasis that demonstrates the importance of conservation and practicability of a self-sustaining ecosystem.
My gains will be the accomplishment of a noble cause that will outlive me. It will be my utmost joy to inspire other young people’s love for farming. The community will achieve a favourable environment that is abundant with fresh air, enriched soil, and proximity to fresh and top quality foods.
The steps I intend to apply to achieve my goals include developing a charter with major stakeholders, who include but are not limited to, IFAD, NCF, IITA, and FAO. They will provide the project with expertise and various seeds and fertilizers for the programme.
Presently, I have procured a Formal Document of Authorization for the Development of a Framework for Sustainable Agricultural Practices in the Rural Area of the Federal Capital. This has been approved by the Minister of Agriculture.
The area, measuring 200 Hectares has been mapped out. I am presently established correspondence with the Permaculture Research Institute, Australia.
Actual measurable success factors for my project include:
Planting of 100,000 forest trees.
The walling off of the 200-hectares parcel of land, which will take about 3 Months.
Creating irrigation channels and a pond.
The planting and generation of crops, seeds and fruits will mean that this haven of permaculture has been established.
Involvement and employment of at least 20 permanent staff before the year end of 2016 is a goal.
The gross output of maximum yield of food products from this area within 4 years is a determinant of success.
The steps mentioned above are milestones in the successful accomplishment of this project. I will describe this project as ultimately successful when this model is adopted and implemented as a blueprint for sustainable agricultural development across the vast arable regions of my country.
The main financial cost factor of running such a huge project like this is the land. However, with this part already secured, the next steps include funding of onsite farmers and workers, as well as irrigation and soil tending and nourishment of the soil.
To make the project more cost efficient, we have opted for the use of a Chicken Tractor that will till and nourish the soil over time.
Breakdown of the $5000 seed money:
Borehole, Irrigation and Artificial Lake – $1,507
Chicken Tractor Frame – $502
Chickens and Feed for a year -$1,256
Solar Panel, 2KVA Inverter and Batteries -$1005
Labour for a Year (provided by self) -$500
This brings us to a budget total of $5,000. I want to state clearly that this project is one of a kind, which will eventually grow to yield so much just as the proverbial mustard seed.
It is envisioned that at some point, it will house delegates from all over the world who will come for conferences, research, leisure and nutritional and health benefits of the crops growing thereof.
Let us not forget the bee keepers who will enjoy an enclave within this environment. Let us not forget the fish farmers either, who will rear fingerlings in the lakes within. Rome was not built in a day, but with such a clear vision as we have expressed here, I call on all young entrepreneurs and agricultural enthusiasts, farmers and naturalists, to come and be part of this noble project.
Let us change the world, one tree at a time. Let us all join hands to taste the sweetness of permaculture as we establish the Self-Sustaining Agricultural Programme.
Blogpost and picture submitted by Stanley Oranika (Abuja, Nigeria) – stanoran[at]gmail.com
The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.
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