Meru Musa, 35, and mother-of-six, cultivates rice in the Federal Capital Territory. In this 14th episode of the series Women in Agriculture, she shares her experience with PREMIUM TIMES.
PT: Can you tell us how long you have been cultivating?
Ms Musa: After my marriage I was a house wife and it was difficult for my husband to be the breadwinner. Most times I had to wait for him to bring farm produce or money before we ate. We reside in our village (Kutara) and the basic thing is farming. Even if there are other jobs, the best I can do is farming so I decided to join him about five years ago. Although I grew up as a farmer but I stopped.
PT: As a woman from this part of the world, it is usually not easy for women to get land. Whose land do you use?
Ms Musa: My parents could not provide us with formal education, the only thing they gave us was farming education. The only inheritance I got was a land since I grew up as a farmer.
PT: What’s the size?
Ms Musa: For now, it is one hectare of land but I have plans of increasing the size of the land in the nearest future.
PT: Seeds and fertilizers are challenges for farmers, how do you tackle them?
Ms Musa: Honestly, it is difficult to access the fertilizers in the market. Sometimes you will have the money but it is not available to buy. So what I do is to use organic fertilizer. I use cattle droppings or decomposed foods.
For the seeds, I buy from the market, I also use some of the remains from the previous farming season. Both fertilizer and seeds are not so affordable so I just manage.
PT: There are a variety of crops how come you just cultivate rice?
Ms Musa: The basic reason is that I love rice as a crop because it is lucrative to cultivate and sell. It grows well on this soil, although there are other crops that grow well too like sorghum and sesame seeds. It is what I am best at. Aside being lucrative, my family and I consume it.
PT: Have you heard of improved seeds?
Ms Musa: Despite being close to the seat of power, I have not heard of improved seeds. When travelling to Gwagwalada, there is this Seed Council office, I was once told they are in charge of seeds in Nigeria but I have not heard anything from them.
PT: Do you use machines?
Ms Musa: No, I don’t. I cannot afford it now.
PT: Do you use your children as labour?
Ms Musa: Two of my children are grown enough to assist me on the farm, after school or during the holidays they join me on the farm.
PT: What is your average output?
Ms Musa: On an average, I get between 8 to 10 bags (100kg) of rice.
PT: How do you preserve your product?
Ms Musa: Storage has been a major challenge for me, I have yo use my house. Even when the space is not enough for humans, I have to create it for my farm product.
PT: How accessible is the market?
Ms Musa: There are off takers who come to take but from the farm, so a good number of times I simply harvest and sell without going to the market. But when the off takers are not able to purchase everything, the leftover is kept in the house.
PT: Does you husband support you and to what extent?
Ms Musa: Yes, he supports me by giving me money to help with expenses like labour expense.
PT: Have got gotten any support from the government organisations or NGOs?
Ms Musa: No, I’ve not.
PT: Have got faced any discrimination because you are a female farmer?
Ms Musa: In this community, we live as one so there is nothing like discrimination against anyone.
PT: Is there any benefit the male farmers get that the women farmers don’t get?
Ms Musa: Farmers rarely receive benefits from Non Governmental Organisations(NGOs) or the government. If it is ever gotten, the men will share with the women because a lot of us are married to each other.
PT: What is your biggest challenge as a female farmer?
Ms Musa: Two things, money and land shortage. These two factors have hindered my growth as farmer. I have dreams of getting wealthy from agriculture. I have plans of expanding my business, going into livestock farming and other crops.
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