By Ademola Alawiye Tuesday, 29 Mar 2011
One of the solutions to the problem of unemployment in the country is for governments at different levels, especially at the local government level (which is the grass roots government), to create the enabling environment for jobless youths and students to set up agricultural-related businesses, with little capital.
One small scale business that has been ignored by youths and the unemployed, owing to lack of proper enlightenment, is grass-cutter farming.The Chief Executive Officer, Jovana Farms, Mr. Arinze Onebunne, who started the business 15 years ago, says grass-cutter farming is a business that does not require huge capital layout to start. To him, it is the cheapest livestock to rear.
He says, “With N50, 000, anyone can start it. A family of a grass-cutter, which is referred to as a colony or a breeding stock, comprises one male and four females. A colony is sold for between N30,000 and N40, 000. They are reared in cages, which a road-side carpenter can help to construct at the cost of N5, 000.”
Onebunne adds that the re-current expenses of running the business are very cheap.
“Grass-cutters are easy and very cheap to rear. You do not buy food for grass-cutters, like it is done in fish farming, poultry farming and pig farming. The reason is that they feed on grass. One female grass-cutter can give you between five and eight litters (babies) at once. They can easily be reared at home, and it is a business venture that can be started on a small scale with a space less than one room.”
On its prospect and profitability, he points out that the business starts yielding profits after eight months.
Onebunne adds, “You get the animal at four months and when they grow to eight months; they can be crossed to start making babies. They can carry their babies up to five months. So, you start making your profit after eight months.”
Speaking further on the business expansion, he notes, “Depending on one’s experience, grass-cutter meat can be packaged for eatery outfits as pepper soup meat, suya, smoked, frozen or dried meat. Most people are looking for the meat as a regular meal or as a special delicacy.”
Onebunne urges people without jobs to embrace the business instead of remaining unemployed.
He says, “An undergraduate or an unemployed person can start the business and start making money for himself, instead of waiting for unending job promises. If you buy them and rear for four months, they will start having babies at eight months. If you do not have a place to expand, you can start selling their babies. If you don’t want to sell, after the four females must have given birth to five litters each, you will have 20 litters.
According to www.jovanafarm.com
, grass-cutter belongs to the mammalian order and the family of rodentia and tyronomyidae, respectively. It is also genetically more closely related to the porcupine than the rat.
Mr. Adekunle Lawal, who also deals in grass-cutter business, says, “I started my grass-cutter business from developing them myself and developing the criteria for identifying the right species, grouping them according to their species and compiling their data. Today, I do not look for grass-cutters again, I already have them in my farm and people come for supplies from me.
On the challenges, he says, “People find it difficult to get the right breeding stock. The first challenge has to do with technicalities. What this means is that people need to learn the business very well before venturing into it. Some people who started the business without practical training have already shut down because they did not get the basics. They did it as a hobby, and at the end of the day, abandoned the business because of one mistake or the other.”
Lawal, however, says that government should create an enabling environment for grass-cutter farming to thrive, adding that it can solve the endemic problem of unemployment.