Permaculture as a Tool for the Revitalisation of Odeda Farm, Nigeria

Permaculture as a Tool for the Revitalisation of Odeda Farm, Nigeria

Résumé en français

Avant la découverte du pétrole brut, l'agriculture était le pilier de l'économie du Nigeria. De 1960 à 1969, le secteur agricole représentait en moyenne 57,0 % du PIB et générait 64,5 % des recettes d'exportation. Cependant, le boom pétrolier des années 1970 a tout changé, le pays devenant excessivement dépendant du pétrole brut pour ses recettes en devises. Les bâtiments de la Farm Settlement ont été désertés et les infrastructures se sont dégradées. Cet article explore la revitalisation du moribond Farm Settlement d'Odeda. L'étude s'appuie sur les principes éthiques de la permaculture, notamment un système agricole durable.

Une évaluation de l'adéquation des terres a été réalisée pour Odeda Farm Settlement afin de revitaliser les terres agricoles dégradées et d'améliorer leur productivité. Une image satellite du site a été capturée à l'aide de l'application Google Earth et soumise à une analyse environnementale par le biais du système d'information géographique. Un plan topographique, un plan des sols, un plan géologique et un plan d'hydrologie/drainage ont été générés. L'analyse de l'utilisation des terres a permis de dégager 109 hectares de pâturages, 147 hectares de vergers, 11 hectares de légumes, 75 hectares d'aliments de base, 14 hectares de parcelles de démonstration, 11 hectares de réservoirs, 28 hectares de noyau administratif et 4 hectares de pépinières. L'introduction de l'agrotourisme dans le plan agricole holistique devrait soulager la communauté locale d'Odeda.

Agriculture was the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy before the discovery of crude oil. From 1960 to 1969, the agriculture sector accounted for an average of 57% of GDP and generated 64.5% of export earnings. However, the oil boom of the 1970s changed everything as the country became overly dependent on crude oil for its foreign exchange earnings. Buildings within the Farm Settlement were deserted and infrastructure became degraded. This paper explores the revitalisation of moribund Odeda Farm Settlement. The study is underpinned by permaculture ethical principles, especially a sustainable agricultural system. A Land Suitability Assessment was conducted for Odeda Farm Settlement to revitalise the degraded farmland and to enhance its productivity. A satellite image of the site was captured using Google Earth and subjected to environmental analysis through the Geographic Information System. Topography, soils, geology and hydrology/drainage plans were generated. The land use analysis allocated areas for pastureland, orchards, vegetables, staple foods, demonstration plots, a reservoir, administrative core and a plant nursery. The introduction of agro-tourism into the holistic agricultural plan is expected to alleviate the Odeda local community.


Agriculture was the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy before the discovery of crude oil. From 1960 to 1969, the agriculture sector accounted for an average of 57% of GDP and generated 64.5% of export earnings.

Farm Settlement dictum was adopted as the rural developmental philosophy in the South-West region of Nigeria. The Odeda Farm Settlement is one of the 42 Farm Settlements in the region. However, the oil boom of the 1970s changed everything as the country became overly dependent on crude oil for its foreign exchange earnings. Nearly everything within the Farm Settlement was left to deteriorate. As a result of this, food insecurity is a major issue in Nigeria. In 2020, Nigeria food imports fluctuated substantially. It tended to decrease through the 1999-2020 period ending at 14.6% in 2020 (Knoema, 2020).  Rice, one of the major staple foods in Nigeria is consumed across all Nigerian socioeconomic classes. Its production rose from 3.7 million metric tons in 2017 to 4.0 million metric tons in 2018 and then rose from 4.89 million metric tons in 2020 to 5.0 million metric tons in 2021 (FAO, 2021). In Spite of this, only 57% of the 6.7 million metric tonnes of rice consumed in Nigeria annually is locally produced, leading to a supply deficit of about 3 million metric tonnes which are imported. Nigeria has been a major consumer and importer of rice in Africa (Obisesan, 2020).

This paper explores the use of integrated landscape planning as a tool for revitalising degraded Odeda Farm Settlement (Now Odeda Farm Institute), to achieve food security, in the Odeda bio-region. The paper is underpinned by permaculture. When the Odeda Farm Settlement was established in the early 1960’s, it was the control centre of all other farm settlements within the South-West region in Nigeria but its present state is worrisome. The farm settlement vision of the defunct Western region demands revitalisation. As reported by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), agriculture remains the foundation of the Nigerian Economy, despite the presence of oil in the country. It is the main source of livelihood for most Nigerians. The agricultural sector of the farm settlement scheme is made up of four sub-sectors; crop production, livestock, forestry and fishing. Revitalising Odeda Farm Settlement using the permaculture design concept is pivotal to ensuring a boost to the agriculture sector while achieving food security helps to further balance the social, economic and environmental needs of the Odeda local community.


Permaculture is both a design philosophy and a design system. As a philosophy, it has a clear set of ethics that aim for the harmonious integration of landscape and people, providing their food, energy, shelter and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. As a design principle, it is concerned with the process by which sustainable human habitats can be created based on working with, rather than against nature (Mollison, 1988).

Permaculture is a consciously designed landscape which mimics the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fibre and energy for the provision of local needs. People, their buildings and the ways in which they organise themselves are central to Permaculture. The vision of permanent or sustainable agriculture has evolved to one of a permanent or sustainable culture. Permaculture design analysis provides a framework for environmental mapping that complements and enhances the complexity of current conflict mapping models (Holmgren, 2002).

All Permaculture analysis begins with observation of the landscape’s natural patterns. Design principles commence from patterns to details including a permaculture zone and sector analysis model. Zones are decreasing areas of human activity and sectors represent energy sources coming through the system. The design aims to mitigate limiting factors for landscape diversification and to strike a balance between natural and cultivated systems. Permaculture design captures positive energy sources entering the system, such as sun, wind, or rain and disrupts energy that is disturbing the landscape. (Holmgren, 2002).

Sustainable agriculture is one that produces abundant food without depleting the earth’s resources or polluting the environment. It follows the principles of nature to develop systems for raising crops and livestock that are self-sustaining. Sustainable agriculture involves social values, resulting in vibrant rural communities, rich lives for families on the farm, and wholesome food for everyone.

The Western Nigeria Farm Settlement scheme was based on the 1959 Israeli Kibbutz System. The Kibbutz is a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture. The first kibbutzim (plural of “kibbutz”) were founded 40 years before the establishment of the State of Israel (1948). Degania (from the Hebrew “Dagan,” meaning grain), located south of Lake Kinneret, was established in 1909 by a group of pioneers on land acquired by the Jewish National Fund (Rubinstein, 2007). Their founders were young Jewish pioneers, mainly from Eastern Europe, who came not only to reclaim the soil of their ancient homeland, but also to forge a new way of life. Their path was not easy: a hostile environment, inexperience with physical labour, a lack of agricultural know-how, desolate land neglected for centuries, scarcity of water and a shortage of funds were among the difficulties which confronted them. Overcoming many hardships, they succeeded in developing thriving communities which have played a dominant role in the establishment and building of the state. Today, about 270 kibbutzim with memberships ranging from 40 to more than 1,000, are scattered throughout the nation of Israel. Most of them have between 300 and 400 adult members, and a population of 500-600. The number of people living in kibbutzim totals approximately 130,000 about 2.5 percent of Israel's population. Most kibbutzim belong to one of three national kibbutz movements, each identified with a particular ideology (Rubinstein, 2007).

Besides Food Security, Permaculture opens the door for Agro-Tourism as an alternative source of livelihood. Agro-tourism can create awareness about rural life and knowledge about agriculture science among urban school children providing an alternative to school picnics which are urban based.

Odeda Farm Settlement revitalisation will therefore adopt integrated landscape planning towards sustainable food security and agro-tourism. Odeda Landscape revitalisation investigates existing environmental parameters; especially soil, topography, vegetation and land use. Satellite Imagery of the Odeda Farm Settlement was captured using Google Earth Pro application software, mapped out and subjected to environmental analysis.

Cadastral maps were sourced as secondary data for the preparation of base maps. Base mapping was updated using Global Positioning System (GPS) readings and personal observations. Geographic Information System (GIS) and AutoCAD were adopted as tools to analyse and synthesise the resource inventory and land capability. Personal observations were documented by still photographs. Inclusive planning to accommodate the contemporary needs of Odeda Community was achieved through a questionnaire that focuses on desired food crops of farmers.

Results and Discussion

The results obtained from the study were presented in the form of maps. Various Maps were generated from the environmental analysis using GIS, including the base map, contours, elevation, soils, vegetation and drainage/hydrology. These maps were synthesised and used to develop a Permaculture Master Plan of Odeda Farm Settlement.

The base map and photographic analysis show existing features on the site (Figure 1). These include an access road onto the farmland, staff quarters, administrative block, animal sheds, 3 units of water Reservoirs, classrooms for students, dormitories, villages, powerline, paths, water systems, power generating house, society house and farm buildings within the farm settlement.

Figure 1:  Base Map and Pictorial Analysis of Odeda Farm Settlement

The elevation map indicates that the highest point on the site is 178m above sea level and the lowest point at 133m (Figure 2). A 5m contour interval was used for the analysis. Agricultural crops require different elevations within which to flourish, with some thriving well on higher elevations and others on lower elevations within a defined landscape. According to the latest studies, harvesting solar power at high altitudes is more efficient than at sea level, so the solar farm has been located at an elevation of over 173m above sea level.

Figure 2:  Elevation Map of Odeda Farm Settlement

A range of soil types were identified on the farmland (Figure 3). Classification is according to the USDA Soil Taxonomy. Included are Ekiti series (Lithic Usthorthent), Balogun Series (Grossarenic Kandiustalf), Iwo and Ibadan series (Arenic Kandiustalf), Egbeda series (Typic Kandiustalf), Olorunda series (Kanhaplic Haplustalf), Apomu series (Typic Kandihaplustalf), Matako series (Arenie Kandiustalf) and Jago series (Aequie Ustipsamment). Classification was based on the FAO UNESCO system; Ekiti series was classified as Lithosol; Balogun, Iwo, Ibadan, Egbeda, Olorunda, Apomu and Matako series were classified as Ferric Lixisols while Jago was classified as Ferric Gleysols. (Akinsanya, 2010). The entire site is underlain by Precambrian basement complex rock composed of granite and undifferentiated meta sediments. The presence of a quarry indicates the existence of granite around and within the site. Granite is one of the most durable stones used in artistic and architectural applications, including outdoor sculpture. Meta-sediments are sediments that appear to have been altered by metamorphism.

Figure 3:  Soil Map of Odeda Farm Settlement

Various vegetation types were classified on the site including Derived Savannah, fallow land, weedy lawn and riparian vegetation (Figure 4). Derived Savannah evolved from high forest subjected to cutting and burning. Fallow land is cropland not seeded for a season, either ploughed or not ploughed. The land may be cultivated or chemically treated for control of weeds and other pests or may be left unaltered. Weedy lawns are patchy, with uneven growth. Riparian vegetation exists along water courses, as well as lakes, ponds and marshes.

Figure 4:  Vegetation Map and Photographic Analysis of Odeda Farm Settlement

Environmental analysis indicates that there were three reservoirs located at a lower elevation, enabling the flow of water from a higher elevation to the reservoir. The growth of the riparian vegetation is aided by the continuous flow of water along the water course.

Figure 5:  Hydrology/Drainage Map and Photographic Analysis of Odeda Farm Settlement

Weather is a factor influencing crop growth. Optimal yield is possible when rain, temperature, relative humidity and sunshine are favourable (Eruola, et al., 2012). Rainfall in the State was at its peak in 2012.  Peak periods were observed between April and October for three consecutive years. The relative humidity ranges from 70% to 89%. Sunshine duration ranges from 0.9hr to 5.93hr. Minimum temperature ranges from 23 to 32°C and maximum temperature from 30 to 38°C.

Community participation efforts to accommodate desired crops at Odeda are shown in Figure 6. Inclusive planning demands participation of the host community.

Figure 6:  Desired Food Crops of Farmers in Odeda Community
Figure 7:  Odeda Farm Settlement Landscapes for Food and Agro-tourism

The Permaculture Master Plan, derived from Figure 7, is shown in Figure 8. Site analysis, focussed group discussions and participatory information influenced the proposed activities in the revitalisation of the degraded farm settlement. The following crops and animal livestock were selected by Odeda farmers and included in the holistic permaculture plan. First are staple foods which include Zea mays, Manihot esculenta and Glycine max. Vegetables include Abelmoschus esculentus, Corchorus olitorius, Amaranthus spp. and Celosia argentea. Others are orchard fruits, poultry, aquaculture and ruminant animals.

The pastureland for grazing totals 109 ha, with different enclosures ensuring regeneration of vegetation, while staple foods total about 75 ha, orchards approximately 148 ha and vegetable gardens about 11 ha. Vegetable production, which needs an abundance of water, has been located at the lowest elevation.

The integration of the Agro-tourism centre in the planning of a New Farm Settlement gives farmers a taste of a diverse agricultural landscape, including recreational aspects. Agro-tourism (Agricultural tourism) is the concept of visiting a working farm or any agricultural, horticultural, or agribusiness operation for the purpose of recreation, education, or active involvement in the activities of the farm or operation (Karthik and Gajanand, 2017). Agro-tourism is increasingly recognized as a means of enterprise diversification for agricultural producers (Colton and Bissix, 2005). Cycling and ecolodges are encouraged within the farm landscape, with ecolodges and  farmland being powered by renewable solar and wind energy within the settlement.

Figure 8:   Permaculture Master Plan of Odeda Farm Settlement.

Cassava is a major staple food characterised by slow initial growth with low soil cover, being drought-tolerant and capable of growing on marginal soils. Intercropping with maize has proven to be highly viable, with cassava and maize being placed nearest in space. This companion planting mimics the diversity of natural ecosystems, with cassava being an annual or biennial crop, while two harvests a year for maize production are possible.

FADAMA is the Hausa name for irrigable, low lying plains underlain by shallow aquifers found along major river systems.  The Fadama concept is an old tradition in Hausa, where flooded land is used for growing a variety of crops. The land is suitable for irrigation, fishing and providing feed and water for livestock, the FADAMA farm being positioned within the lowest elevation of the farm landscape.

Conclusion and Recommendations

The integrated landscape planning of the New Odeda Farm Settlement provides a window to understand the environmental factors that can sustain community desired crops. Despite the contribution to the economy, Nigeria’s agricultural sector faces many challenges which impact on productivity. These include a poor land tenure system, low levels of irrigation farming, climate change and unabated land degradation. There is a need to revive more degraded farm settlements within different local governments across the nation and build new sustainable ones. This would further increase food production, achieve food security and enhance the productivity of available local natural resources. This paper recommends the following:

• Revised developmental policies for the remaining 41 farm settlements in the south-western region.

• Fresh policies for new farm settlements to meet rapid population growth.

• A new policy to synchronise all the farm settlements in line with the desired agricultural value chain.


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