Sabuwa Muhammad, 42, cultivates a variety of crops in Jigawa State. The mother of three has a diploma in agriculture and home economics from Binyaminu Usman College of Agriculture, Hadejia, Jigawa State but says she loves farming.
In this ninth episode of our new series, she shares her experience as a woman farmer with PREMIUM TIMES‘ Oge Udegbunam.
PT: What crops do you cultivate?
Ms Muhammad: I cultivate millet, sorghum, groundnut and rice.
PT: For how long now have you been into farming?
Ms Muhammad: I have been cultivating for about 12 years now.
PT: Asides farming, what else do you do?
Ms Muhammad: For me, it is basically farming and that is all. But I am into livestock management too, specifically poultry, and groundnut oil processing.
PT: How are you able to manage issues concerning land?
Ms Muhammad: Personally, I do not have my land and I don’t have enough money to lease or rent. I use my husband’s land, which is always available for me.
PT: What is the size of the land?
Ms Muhammad: About two hectares
PT: Why did you choose your crops?
Ms Muhammad: I considered two basic things, which are soil and market. The soil in Jigawa is good for the crops I cultivate so they grow well and I have good output. Secondly, the market is readily available. I don’t have to wait for a long time before the produce are all bought off.
PT: Have you heard of improved seeds?
Ms Muhammad: Yes I have heard of improved seeds.
PT: Where do you get your seeds from?
Ms Muhammad: I understand that good seeds matter for I really do not preserve my seeds from the previous year, I buy improved seeds from Jigawa Agricultural Supply Company (JASCO).
PT: Do you use machines?
Ms Muhammad: I cannot afford to buy or even rent machines. I use human labour, which is cheaper.
PT: You have three children, do they help you on the farm?
Ms Muhammad: Yes I do use them on the farm and I pay them like I pay other workers.
PT: What is your average output per year?
Ms Muhammad: In 2019, I harvested 30 bags of rice but in 2020 I lost a lot because of the rains. For sorghum and groundnut, I harvested 20 bags each. These bags are 50kg bags.
PT: How do you preserve and store your goods?
Ms Muhammed: I store them in bags. There are these thick bags that preserve the products for a longer time, unlike the regular sacks. I pack them in these bags and store them if not sold off immediately at harvest.
PT: Do you sell all of your produce or consume some of them?
Ms Muhammed: Of course, I sell my produce and also consume from them as well.
PT: How is the market for your produce?
Ms Muhammed: There are markets where we sell but the price people want to purchase these produce are not favourable and reasonable at all.
PT: Do you have people (middlemen) who come to buy from you directly on the farm?
Ms Muhammed: No, there are no middlemen who buy from my farms. I take my produce to the market and sell there.
PT: Fertilisers are very important in farming, so how do you get and manage fertiliser?
Ms Muhammed: Fertilisers here are very scarce so I do not use them as their prices also are so much on the high side.
PT: Are there good roads connecting you farm to your home and the markets?
Ms Muhammed: It is one of the few good things we have access to here in Jihawa, there are good roads connecting my farm, markets and my home.
PT: There is a period between planting and harvesting called waiting period. During this period, that is the period where you wait for a crop to grow to harvest time what do you survive on?
Ms Muhammed: During that period I begin the groundnut oil processing and have enough time for livestock farming.
PT: The government supports farming and other agricultural businesses. Have you benefited in from such support?
Ms Muhammed: No, I have not benefited from any government support.
PT: How much is your startup capital? That is how much did you invest in one planting season?
Ms Muhammed: In one planting season, I invest about N200,000 per hectare. For the two hectares I invest N400,000 and above, depending on the condition.
PT: After harvest, are you able to recover your investment with profit?
Ms Muhammad: Yes, the price of rice is N17, 500; sorghum N16, 000 and maize also N16, 000. So I sold the 39 bags for N545,000 and N320, 000. I made a profit of N345,000 for rice and 120,000 for both maize and sorghum. Meanwhile in the two hectares I made a N585,000 profit.
PT: What is your advice for women who intend to go into farming?
Ms Muhammed: Firstly, choose a land that will yield positively for you with respect to the crop you intend to cultivate. This is called site selection. Next is using improved seeds, then fertilisers. These are basic things. The major thing is finance. You need herbicides, insecticide and labour amongst other things. All these things requires money.
PT: How do you manage natural disasters like flooding?
Ms Muhammed: This year, flooding was a major problem, then the (Covid-19) pandemic. This year, we lost a lot so we just managed the little we have and hope for a better year ahead.
PT: Have you ever had issues with herdsmen on your farm?
Ms Muhammed: No, I have not as we don’t have herdsmen floating around here.
PT: Do you experience discrimination from male farmers in your area? That is, if palliative comes, do the male farmers give to female farmers?
Ms Muhammed: We do not experience discrimination from the male farmers and if palliative of any kind is given to farmers, they do give the women farmers our allocations.
PT: Do you get extension services from the government?
Ms Muhammed: Yes, we do. They come to advise and inform us. Sometimes we call them and they come.
PT: Do you belong to any group of farmers?
Ms Muhammed: Yes, I do. I belong to Small-scale Women Farmers Organisation of Nigeria (SWOFON).
PT: From your 12 years experience in farming, what has been your greatest challenge?
Ms Muhammed: My greatest challenges in farming are finance and fertiliser.
PT: What is your plan for the next period? Like in three years, where do you see yourself?
Ms Muhammed: I love farming and I’m not quitting, so in about three years time I am hoping to have expanded. Once I am able to get the finance required I’ll expand.
PT: Have you once been harassed on your farm?
Ms Muhammad: No. I’ve never been harassed on my farm.
PT: What other profession will you love to do aside farming if the opportunity should come?
Ms Muhammad: I love processing. If I’m to get the machines, I would venture in to milling and processing. I will process rice and groundnut oil and also package them well.
PT: Aside your husband’s land that you use, what other support do you get from him?
Ms Muhammad: Nothing else. Just the land.
PT: What market do you sell your products?
Ms Muhammad: Gudungu market in Jigawa State.
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