Hope Manzawet is a student of the University of Abuja studying Agricultural Science. She also owns a fish farm in the Nigerian federal capital city.
Ms Manzawet started farming in 2019 alongside her father. She continued to manage the business after the death of her father in November 2021. She has since been in charge of the farm that has nearly 1000 fish.
In this episode of our Women In Agriculture series, Ms Manzawet tells PREMIUM TIMES the challenges she faces as a student and a farmer.
PT: How did your journey into agriculture practise start?
Ms Manzawet: My journey through agriculture has not been easy. I grew up knowing that my parents as civil servants were also farmers. I never wanted to go into farming because of the mindset I had about farming. But after my secondary school I was given admission to study Agriculture in the university, though I applied for Medicine/Surgery. So I wasn’t happy when I started my first year in university. Obviously, it was not what I wanted, so I was counselled by some professors in my department but after giving it a second thought, I changed my mind and my mindset and I began to love agriculture. My fish farm is in my house. I have two constructed ponds.
PT: Why are you combining farming and education?
Ms Manzawet: I find agriculture very lucrative because it has helped me in every way. I am into fish farming. I have good knowledge on everything that entails catfish production, from day old down to maturity stage. And I have made lots of profit from it which has gone a long way in sorting out my bills.
PT: Tell us the challenges you face as a student and a farmer?
Ms Manzawet: Sometimes I am not able to take care of my fish farm properly because of my studies. Trying to meet up my educational goals and taking care of my fish farm has been a major challenge.
PT: Do you get support from your family?
Ms Manzawet: Yes, I get the maximum support from my family. Whenever I am in school, they take care of the fish.
PT: Tell us how you were able to raise capital for farming as a student?
Ms Manzawet: I could not raise capital so I depended on my father. When I got admission, I partnered with my dad to start the fish farming business. So my dad started funding the business then I was taking care of the fish. We didn’t share the profit since he still took care of most of my bills, school fee, and feeding. My dad died later on but the business is still ongoing. When we started, my dad funded it.
Then we made the first sales and re-invested the profit in the business. Initially, we bought 500 fingerlings then we increased it to 650 fingerlings after the first sales. Subsequently, after the death of my father, we started taking a little from the profit but we never touched the capital. We calculate all the expenses before touching the profit. This is because we want the business to continue.
PT: Association comes with incentives such as loans etc, do you belong to any farmers association?
Ms Manzawet: No, I don’t belong to any farmers association. But I know there are associations. I have not joined because of certain reasons like time to attend their meetings and paying dues (not a major problem).
PT: Insecurity is a major challenge farmers face in Nigeria. Have you faced issues of insecurity?
Ms Manzawet: No, I haven’t been faced with an issue of insecurity. The fish pond is in my house and the compound is fenced.
PT: The Nigerian government has always rolled out support for farmers as a way to ensure food security in the country. These support come in different forms through loans or inputs. Have you ever received support from the government ?
Ms Manzawet: I haven’t gotten any support from the government. I hear in the news they make provision for agriculture but I have never taken out time to do serious follow up on such benefits.
PT: Market is a big deal for farmers. Do you have a market for your produce?
Ms Manzawet: I have clients already, I sell my fish from home and I sell in bulk. Once the fishes are ready for harvesting, I put calls across to various people (clients) who will always purchase.
PT: You will be graduating soon, what plans do you have for the farm?
Ms Manzawet: After university I want to build more ponds and increase the fish population. I want to expand the business.
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