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The fall of the Kano Groundnut Pyramids

Nigeria is estimated to produce 41% of the total groundnut production in Africa. The groundnut pyramids were remarkable in Kano State( Northern Nigeria ). They were built by Alhassan Dantata, a prominent nut trader and were erected in cities like Kofar Mazugal, Brigade, Bebeji, Malam Madori and Dawakin Kudu. Sacks of groundnuts were piled on each other higher than many buildings; 15000 bags of groundnuts could make one pyramid. It symbolized the region’s abundance in a significant cash crop. It was thriving, and trade was booming. Today, the place where the sacks lay are empty occupied mainly by buildings.

There are a lot of factors that led to the fall of groundnut production in Nigeria. These factors include; drought, neglect of agriculture brought on by the oil boom, lack of an organized structure that dealt with groundnuts’ marketing, and the dissolution of groundnut marketing boards.

Due to climate change, there have been drastic changes in the amount of rainfall, drought spells have become more frequent, and this has led to the fall in production of groundnuts, as it requires four months to reach maturity. Outbreaks of crop diseases and pests have also been attributed to drought. A primary disease that affects groundnuts is the rosette virus. In 1975 an episode of the disease wiped almost three-quarters of a million hectares of groundnuts in Nigeria, leading to a considerable loss estimated at US$250 million. Other epidemics that followed caused farmers to stick with other crops. This severely affected the production of groundnuts, and it hasn’t been revived to its output before 1970 of 1.8 million.

The pyramids, which were once a tourist attraction and symbol of affluence, may never be revived because of these factors, but the total production of groundnuts is expected to increase.

Former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, pledged to rebuild the groundnut pyramids in a speech he made in March 2015, but nothing has been done to restore the pyramids since that time.