Theresa Paul is a smallholder farmer in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja. She is into mixed farming.
In this episode, she narrates her encounter with herders and how they left her with a broken arm.
PT: Can you put us through your journey in agriculture?
Ms Paul: I have been farming for eight years, I practise both animal and crop farming. I grow maize, beans and cassava and I also have poultry. I started farming to support my family and make money. After harvest, I sell at Kuje market and I also sell eggs from my poultry.
PT: Like some women farmers, it is difficult to own or even lease land for any kind of business, can you tell us your story?
Ms Paul: I lease land, but they are all in different locations. I had to meet the indigenes of this community, the Gbagi people, for land. I pay a different amount but it depends on the size and the location of the land. I paid N10,000 for one hectare and N2000 for one plot.
PT: Since you started planting, have you heard of improved seeds? How do you also get seeds?
Ms Paul: Yes I have, but I have not used it. I buy from the market or use the ones from the previous harvest.
PT: Insecurity has been a huge problem for Nigerians, how has it affected your farming activities?
Ms Paul: It has really affected me, on my one hectare of land, the herders went into the farm and finished the maize, I lost everything. Last year, they consumed the beans on another farm. There was one day in 2019 that I met the herders and their cows on my farm, so I tried chasing them but the herders spoke to the cows and they came after me, I had to run, in the process, I fell down and my hand was broken. I managed to stand up and continue the race. By the time I got home, nobody was around to help me, just my children. I later went to the hospital. The arm hurts often, I just keep managing. I try not to use it often.
PT: Aside from seeds, how do you get fertilizer to improve your crop yield?
Ms Paul: I don’t have money to purchase fertilizer so I make use of poultry waste.
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PT: You could have chosen a different profession, why agriculture?
Ms Paul: I love doing it and I have passion for it.
PT: Do you belong to any association?
Ms Paul: Yes, I do. I belong to… but we are yet to benefit from it.
PT: Since your arm is broken, how do you deal with labour?
Ms Paul: I hire human labour, that’s all I can do. I don’t have money to rent or buy machines. I pay as much as N20,000 for labour.
PT: Are there challenges you face on the farm that you want to share with us?
Ms Paul: Yes, sometimes I have very poor yield because of pests. The maize I cultivated last year was eaten by a pest, just like beans. For me, it looks like perpetual suffering, from one problem to another. This year pests, next year herders, and every year lack funds.
PT: What is the most pressing need as a woman farmer?
Ms Paul: I need funds so that my business will expand. I can buy basic farm inputs and probably a small machine to ease the stress.
PT: Have you heard of the FADAMA project? Did you benefit from it?
Ms Paul: No, I have not heard of it. Two weeks ago, some other women and I went for a programme in Gwagwalada and they gave us chemicals and a sprayer.