Monday, 21 October 2013

‘Grass-cutter business in Nigeria is lucrative’

Emmanuel Edeh is a grass-cutter farmer at Badagry, Lagos. His farm was established about 15 years ago. Currently, there are up to 3,500 heads of animals in the farm. He spoke with  ZEBULON  AGOMUO on the prospect and challenges in the business, insisting that the returns on investment are worth the stress. Excerpts:GRASSCUTTER
Cost implication:
The cost depends on location. If it is in a village, the cost will be far less than in the city. In the city we build a complete house, like a normal living house, and within that house we build some huts where the animals will stay. To start the business, one needs about half a million naira. When the animals are increasing, you build more accommodation for them.
Bottomline
For those going into the business, we have what we call the basic stock that we sell. Another type we call the table – those who have outlived their reproductive stage; there is a ready market for it within the West African sub-region; even in Central Africa. In fact, the only challenge I see in the business is the initial trouble of raising money to start; once that is done, it pays good in the long run.
Major customers
Those intending to go into the business; are people like the hoteliers, consumers and of course, people from outside the shore of this country. For instance, we had an order from someone from America. He wanted to take the animal to a tropical area located somewhere in that region. I must tell you that the demand for grass-cutter meat is so large that it is not being met.
Mortality rate of the animal
The mortality rate of the animal is very low. If the basic principles are observed, they do not die easily, unlike other animals. Grass-cutters are mainly herbivorous; require neither imported component of food nor expensive medical expenses if strict hygiene is maintained. They are easy and very cheap to raise.
What season favours the animal?
Intense hot weather affects the animal, and if it is too cold also, it affects it. Temperate condition favours the animal.
Reproduction
I think this is the most interesting part of the business. This is because the animal gives birth to as much as eight at a time. The least it can give birth to at a time is three. The more favourable the environment is to them, the more number they produce. So, as a farmer, there is the need to ensure that they are kept at the most convenient place. Gestation period of the grass-cutter is about 154 days or five months.
Government policy and the business
Well, I can say that since I have been in the business, I have not experienced any government policy on rearing of grass-cutter. There is no such policy because, as I said earlier, the animal cannot survive in Europe; it can only survive within the West Africa sub-region and Central Africa. It can neither survive in South Africa because of cold nor in North Africa because of hot weather. Although we have yet to begin export of the animals, we do not intend to have any problem with government regulations because as a responsible organisation, we ensure we work within the confines of the law of our country.
What other essential things does one need to go into the business?
Apart from money and other material resources needed for the business, I think, the major thing is interest. You must ask yourself- why do I have to go into grass-cutter business among numerous others? If you have the interest, then you look for money. It is the amount of money you have that will determine the scale you will operate. With a reasonable amount of money, you can get a fairly big and conducive farm and then many animals. It is a good business that pays good.
would you rather give it a try? let us know and we will guide you through.

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