By Chidimma Agu
Some members of the Grasscutter Farmers Association of Nigeria (GRAFAN) have called on the Federal Government to provide support for grasscutter farming in the country.
They made the call in separate interviews with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday after the inauguration of the national body of the association in Lagos.
According to them, the Federal Government’s support will aid efforts to reduce the cost of setting up grasscutter farms and encourage more people, particularly the youth, to adopt grasscutter farming as a means of livelihood.
Dr Chinedu Eluwa, GRAFAN President, said that establishing grasscutter farms was a capital-intensive project.
“To set up a grasscutter farm, one needs to buy a colony of grasscutters, which costs between N79, 000 and N80, 000. A colony is made up of a male and four females.
“Then, you build a cage with necessary accessories to keep the grasscutters in a good environment.
“For now, due to the fact that there are mainly smallholder grasscutter farmers around, the acquisition of a colony can be quite challenging.
“If the price of a colony becomes cheaper, some of the youths, who are currently roaming the street due to unemployment, will be encouraged to go into grasscutter farming,’’ he said.
Mr Peter Adegoke, the GRAFAN Treasurer, said that the association would like the Federal Government to deal with its members the same way it was dealing with cassava, millet, rice, groundnut and yam farmers.
“Grasscutter farmers need the Federal Government support in the area of grants, loans and infrastructure.
“The association will also appreciate any technical support from the government,’’ he said.
Mr Peter Akparanta, GRAFAN Director of Research, Planning and Protocols, said that the market for grasscutters in and outside the country was huge.
“Due to health concerns, people are increasing becoming conscious of what they eat and where what they eat is coming from.
“Grasscutter has been a local delicacy as it is caught in the wild but now with its domestication, it has even become better.
“Apart from consuming grasscutters, the skins and bones are potential foreign exchange earners.
“The skin is processed into leather for shoes, bags and other related products, while the bone is used in manufacturing pharmaceutical products,’’ he said.
Mr Alex Ogunshakin, a member of the association, said that grasscutter farming usually became less cumbersome after scaling through the initial hurdles of setting it up.
“Grasscutter is the easiest wild animal to domesticate.
“Starting the farm may be a bit difficult but once one passes through that stage and the animals get familiar with the environment and you become their friend.
“Feeding grasscutters is not a problem as they eat all kinds of food you eat in the house.
“That is why it will be easy for youths to go into grasscutter farming to make a living and even become a job provider, instead of a job seeker,’’ he said.
Ogunshakin said that at the age of eight months, a grasscutter was ready to be consumed, while at three and four months, male and female grasscutters were ready for breeding.
He solicited the Federal Government support, saying that it would increase the number of grasscutter farmers in the country, while generating additional foreign exchange for the country.
NAN reports that grasscutter farmers from eight states across the country were in Lagos for the inauguration of the national body of the association. (NAN)