Patience Dang is a smallholder farmer and a university graduate living in Jos. She cultivates maize and Irish potatoes. Like some farmers, she started farming due to the steep rate of unemployment in Nigeria.
However, things changed favourably for her when she came in contact with an organisation that supported her farming activities. In this episode of Women in Agriculture, Ms Dang shares an interesting experience.
PT: Can you put us through your journey in Agriculture?
Ms Dang: I started farming three years ago after my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). I came back from Taraba where I was posted to serve but there was no work so I just started farming. I started with one and a half plots of land. I had to rent the land because people rent lands. The family land is in the village and I cannot reside there neither can I entrust someone with the responsibility of taking care of my farm there. I had to look for a farm around here, it’s just about 40 minutes’ walk from my house. It is also a suitable area where I can practice irrigation farming. I pay N25,000 for the whole year.
PT: You started as a newbie, how were you able to raise the capital?
Ms Dang: I started raising capital in my university days as a student. I was working and saving but I never knew it was going to be farming. I was ushering at different events. After graduation, I came home and started selling “zobo” to miners. When my call-up letter came, I was posted to Jalingo, where I started a fish business. I go to fishermen, buy fish and dry them myself before distribution. I sold to other parts of the country. At some point I had to sell to just supermarkets in Taraba.
PT: Have you received any empowerment from the government or private organisations?
Ms Dang: I have not received anything from the government but I have received from a non-governmental organisation called Alluvial Agriculture. I got to know Alluvial Agriculture in 2020 through a friend. I googled them and I registered. After registration, there was orientation on the organisation’s policy. They showed us improved seedlings, and people who had benefited from them shared their testimonies. We waited for some time for them to share the seedlings and, while waiting, the NGO organised training for women farmers on how to manage a farm as a woman, which included record-keeping.
The training was informative because the rain came earlier so I could not wait for them to share their own seeds. So I used my own. I got the seedlings after but I was not able to use them. I will use them next farming season. They also distributed herbicides which I used on my farm this year and it was very effective. There is this termite that eats up maize when the rain is short, they also got the chemicals for that. It helped keep the termites away from my maize, it could have been a loss.
PT: Aside from the herbicides and seeds, is there any other thing they distributed?
Ms Dang: Yes, I got fertilizer. It was an improved one, I used three bags on my farm and my neighbour used the quantity on his farm but mine was very productive.
PT: While registering with the organisation, was there a financial commitment?
Ms Dang: Yes, just like other organisations.
PT: The inputs you got, did you get them at subsidised rates?
Ms Dang: Yes but you may not have to pay for everything before getting them. You have the opportunity to pay any percentage depending on what you’re taking. As a registered member I can pay with either cash or some of my products.
PT: Insecurity is another issue for everyone in Nigeria. Recently in Jos, lives were lost. Can you share your experience on how this has affected your business?
Ms Dang: It has really affected farming in Plateau State. In fact, it happens more in rural areas where people practise commercial farming. Personally, I have not had any experience since I started. I stay in Jos South which is a city. I visit my farm often. If not the herders bring in their cows when no one is there.
PT: The size of your land is small, how do you do with labour?
Ms Dang: I employ people to work on the farm, or I do it myself if it doesn’t require much stress.
PT: Do you have a stable market where you sell your farm produce?
Ms Dang: Yes, I do. I sell at the village markets. Sometimes I don’t sell them as Irish potatoes. I allow them to grow into seedlings then I sell them as seedlings. For the maize, I harvest and keep then sell around June because it’s expensive.
PT: What do you need as a woman farmer to succeed?
Ms Dang: I don’t think I need anything more now that I have gotten help from this organisation. All I need is motivation from within.
PT: Tell us, is there any difference between before and after meeting Alluvial Agriculture?
Ms Dang: The difference is clear because I now know how to calculate my farm income and expenditure and also the need for record-keeping so I will say I am experiencing a huge difference positively.