Programs & Initiatives
Rivers Songhai Farm
Songhai is a center for training, agricultural production, research and development of sustainable agricultural practices.
The programme was conceived when Governor Chibuike Amaechi visited the Songhai Centre in Porto Novo and was impressed with the model and decided it would work well in Rivers State.
Work began at the Rivers Songhai farm in 2010, before then a group of 105 young men and women drawn from the 23 Local Government Areas of the state had been sent to Songhai International Centre in Benin Republic for 18-month training in various specialized Agric and Agro based areas as well as develop entrepreneurial culture.
The farm project sits on a 314-hectare land in Bunu-Tai, an agrarian community in Tai Local Government Area of the state. It is about 20 times the size of the Songhai model — an integrated farm which combines livestock, arable farming, fisheries, snail farming and poultry.
The objectives of Songhai Rivers Initiative Farm include: to develop a resilient programme that links agriculture with industry and commerce; to develop human capacities for the empowerment of individuals and groups; to broaden the socio-economic bandwidth in the region and contribute to the improvement of the economy through aggressive production, processing and marketing of agricultural products and related services; to provide improved planting materials for farmers in the state and beyond; to open up market linkages for farm produce; to reverse rural-urban migration; and to encourage agro-tourism amongst others.
The programme being piloted by the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA) is based on food security, sustainable livelihood and rural development.
The main features of the Rivers Songhai farm include, Administrative and Hospitality Care, Technology Park, Production Centre.
The administrative, training and hospitality centre consists of, administrative block, library, workshop, Telecentre/communication offices, conference hall, classrooms, laboratory/healthcare services, staff residence, trainees dormitory with canteen, kitchen and store, mini market, African restaurant, Western restaurant, boutique and liason offices.
The Technology and industrial centre covers the Cassava Processing unit, Rice mill, Feed mill, Juice, jam, pastry and Soya milk production unit, Smoking hut (fish and meat) and food drying unit, Palm and Soy products unit, Foundry and machine production unit, stabilized bricks production unit, automobile and machinery maintenance unit, handicrafts, Spare parts store and generator house.
At the production centre the sections include: Piggery unit, Grass cutter and fattening unit, Cow and Goat ranch, poultry units for Broilers, layers, Quail house, guinea fowls, Canadian geese, ducks and turkeys, Free range Poultry, Concrete Fish ponds for fresh water fish species (Catfish, Tilapia, Carp), Fish hatchery unit, Earthen Pond, Artificial lake, Greenhouse, Snail production, Magottry, Pineapple Orchard, Moringa, Cash crop production and Vegetable Garden, Cassava, Coconut, Orange, Plantain, Mango etc, Biogas and storage unit, Nitrogen bank, seed multiplication among others.
While the fruits produced are usually sold or processed into packaged juices, the farm also has processing facilities for rice and cassava, especially cassava, which is processed into Garri, Fufu, Starch and Ethanol. Daily fresh eggs’ harvests are made available to the community’s members at affordable rates and are also sold to different communities across the state.
Also, wastes from the birds are channeled to the farm’s fish ponds or used as organic fertilizers for crop growing. At the fish hatchery units, fish eggs are artificially fertilised to produce fingerlings of varied species, including Catfish and Tilapia, while the `maggotry’ is set up to produce protein-rich maggots to feed the fishes. Snail shells are processed into calcium for use in animal feeds.
Around the Songhai farm in Bunu Tai are six other farms, each one measuring about 500 hectares in size. Each of these farms is called the regional farm centre and is strategically located in different parts of the state. When they are fully developed, these farms will take the new technique, the new variety, the new method of farming that come out of the research done in Songhai and replicate same in their respective farms.
The farm is also built with tourism potentials, there are accommodation facilities and conferencing facilities that allow different organisations to go there and hold conferences or workshops; people could also go there to do refresher trainings in the different agricultural methods or just go to relax and be at peace with nature.