When the phrase "natural resources" is mentioned, people think of gold, diamonds, crude oil, etc. but it doesn't get any more natural than what we put in our bellies. The strawberry capital of Nigeria is Jos in Plateau State. Several Jos communities, including Chaha community in Jos South, have been farming strawberries for decades, planting in July and harvesting up to 20kg of strawberries from two plots per week in November. A Chaha farmer makes between N300, 000 and N1, 000,000 per season. The main challenge is the hours it takes to transport the strawberries by road and preserve it.
When the phrase “natural resources” is mentioned the first things that usually come to mind are diamonds, gold, platinum, uranium, and of course, we can’t forget crude oil. However, resources dont get any more natural than what we put in our bellies. If all the crude, diamonds, gold, uranium, and other so-called “precious metals” disappeared today, life will still go on, people will adjust, but there is no adjusting to hunger. For decades so much focus has been put on solid, inedible minerals whose mining has caused damage to the earth’s surface, while the agricultural gold mine remains untapped. Here’s something most people are unaware of: strawberries are grown in Africa. In Nigeria, strawberry farming has been ongoing for decades. Many are unaware of this because fruits like strawberries are partial to a cool environment and since Culture Values of Africans is notorious for its hot climate, it is taken for granted that not all of Africa is hot.
Some places are cold enough to experience snow regularly because they are thousands of meters above sea level. In Nigeria, there may be a lot of heat but the closer one gets to the northern part of the country, the higher the land is. As a result, these areas are colder, making the production of strawberries very possible. The Strawberry Capital of Nigeria is the Jos Plateau in Plateau State. A lot of communities in the Jos Plateau have been strawberry farmers for decades. One of these communities is Chaha Community located in Jos South Local Government Area in Plateau State. In Chaha, the land is extremely fertile even without the addition of fertilizers. The farmers have constructed a very effective irrigation system that allows all the farmlands in the community to access the water from the lake in the village through pipes that run from the lake directly to each farm.
A large percentage of these Strawberry farmers are in their early twenties to mid-thirties. These are young men and women who could very easily have gone looking for white-collar jobs and missed out on the gold mine in their backyards. These farmers usually plant in July and harvest in November . Most times they could harvest up to 20kilograms of strawberries a week from two plots of farmland. The strawberries are sold in kilograms, with one kilogram being sold for One Thousand Naira (N1000) or less when supply is high. They sell to traders from Abuja in bulk, and retail smaller amounts to roadside sellers making between Three Hundred Thousand and One Million Naira per season (N300,000 – N1,000,000). These strawberries could also be sold to grocery stores, market traders, companies that manufacture fruit juices, beverages, and jams, businesses that make smoothies and health drinks, bakeries, and more.
Strawberry farming is not a bed of roses. The main challenge is transportation and preservation. Strawberries are stored in the same way they grow; they need to be kept cool and in spacious containers. Transportation of strawberries by road from the north to south of the country is not ideal, as the journey could sometimes take Sixteen (16) hours. Strawberries are sensitive fruits, they do not like stress at all! For this reason, Nigerian home-grown strawberries are enjoyed mainly by people in the northern region while those in the south have to settle for the store-bought stuff. For those who feel their university degrees have made them too sophisticated to get involved in farming, the CEO of Ashley Strawberry Farms is a strawberry farmer from Plateau State who studied International Relations, Global Ethics, and Human Values in the United Kingdom. Her resumé is likely more sophisticated than yours, so don’t bother with that excuse. For others whose issue is financial, you don’t need to start big, start small, and don’t be scared to partner with the right persons.
In the Rustiro District in Rwanda, a group of 449 farmers (men and women) pooled their resources together in 2017 to start a strawberry farm, with each farmer contributing Ten Thousand Rwandan Francs (RF10,000). Today, from the profits of their venture they have purchased more farms. Nigeria and Africa as a whole are blessed with good weather, fertile earth, and more importantly, a community that gives everyone a sense of belonging. So, take advantage of all the gold mines in your area, do your research, and enrich yourself.