Nigeria: Women in Agriculture - How I've Operated 'On Credit' for Years - Farmer

20 September 2021

Rebecca Isaac, a cassava and beans farmer, gets inputs, chemicals and even labour on credit.

Rebecca Isaac is a smallholder farmer in the Federal Capital Territory. She cultivates cassava, beans, groundnut, rice, potatoes and maize.

The mother of six, a native of Edo State.

In this episode of our Women in Agriculture, shares her experience on how she gets her farm inputs on credit during the farming season.

PT: Why did you leave Edo for Abuja to farm?

Ms Isaac: I relocated as a young person to seek greener pastures. I started farming in Abuja when I came. I have always been a farmer back then in the village.

PT: As a woman and a non-indigene, how are you able to get land?

Ms Isaac: I rent land here. I cannot rent all the land I need in one location, I rent them in different locations. I get one hectare for N15000, then there is another one I pay N10000, then there are some I pay N2000.

PT: As a resident of the Federal Capital Territory, you must have known there is a need for farmers to belong to an association. Which association do you belong to?

Ms Isaac: I'm not a member of any association, I don't have money to join them.

Ms Isaac: I get some of these inputs on credit, especially the chemicals and even labour. Sometimes I may not have the money to pay them, they have to wait until after harvest. I give them money or some of the farm produce.

Doing the labour on credit makes it easier for my husband and I. My husband just collected some herbicides from someone on credit this afternoon. I'm even owing the man N6000 before going for this one.

For the seeds, I use the ones from the previous harvest. When I exhaust them, I go to the market to buy them. I have heard of improved seeds, like the cassava I cultivated last, someone brought it from Malaysia for me. The output is huge and it takes just six months to grow.

I cannot afford machines, so I use human labour. They are expensive too but I can't help it. I spend so much on the machine. I turn the cassava into cassava flakes.

PT: Can you share your experiences with us, regarding insecurity on your farm?

Ms Isaac: They come often, we just keep chasing them, exchanging words. Sometimes they come in our absence and destroy our crops. Last year, I lost the rice I cultivated to herders. I came back from church on Sunday, just to see my rice farm cleared by cows. I was really sad. I cannot even calculate my loss because I don't keep records.

PT: Is there any kind of marginalisation you get from the indigene of this community?

Ms Isaac: Yes, they do, especially when our crops are doing better than theirs. It is even worse with land. There was one man that gave us land, after he died, his son warned us not to enter that land again even with our crops on them. Or when your crop is down better than theirs, they will not allow you farm on that land again.

PT: The profit from the harvest of the crops, how do you spend it?

Ms Isaac: Basically, it's for feeding and paying bills like school fees for the children. Some of my children are undergraduates and the school fees are paid from the farm. The children even work with me on the farm; my daughter also owns a large farm in Sapele.

PT: Now that you are struggling to raise capital for your farm, have you applied for a loan from the government or any private firm?

Ms Isaac: No I have not. I don't know anyone. Some persons came here and demanded N10,000 and promised to empower us. After paying, we didn't see them again, another set came and collected our data and money but we have not heard from them. Even with the FADAMA project, I paid N7000 to them, nothing happened. It was only during the Goodluck Jonathan's administration that we got fertilizer at subsidised rate, but this current administration is just scamming people.

PT: There is this fertilizer plan by the Muhammadu Buhari administration for farmers where they are expected to get it at subsidised rate, have benefitted from it?

Ms Isaac: No, we buy at N31,000 or N13,000 or N17,000 depending on the size of the bag.

PT: What will you say is your most pressing need?

Ms Isaac: I need money so I can buy the necessary farm things. Even if I don't get money, if they can provide a grinding engine or thresher. It will be great.

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