Umar Tasiu Namadi is a 24-year-old farmer, who is making it through rice farming. In this interview with Daily Trust on Sunday, the 200-level student of Electrical Engineering, said with farming, there is no need for him to look for a government job after his studies. Excerpts:
How did you venture into farming?
I started farming in the year 2021 during our 100-level end of session holiday. When I came back from school, I discovered I had nothing to do at home, that was when I began to follow our neighbour to his farm. From then, I developed interest into the farming business and I joined with my little capital.
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How much did you have as capital then?
I had less than N150,000, and I generated that through my side hustle after school hours. I also got some support from one farming intervention by the World Bank; APPEALS project. With that, I was able to maintain the capital and as I am talking to you now, it has multiplied and still counting. Now, I have paddy rice in the store and also have cash of over N600,000. I am also working on a one-hectare rice farm now.
What have you achieved so far in farming?
I have achieved a lot within this short period of time. But the most celebrated achievement is how I am supporting my studies from my earnings. Another achievement is, although I am studying Electrical Engineering, ever since I joined farming, I stopped thinking about government jobs. I believe with farming, I can become whatever I want to be in life.
The fact that I am now independent is also another achievement and the little experience I have now has opened my eyes to prepare for the future. I am now used to many of the processes, so in future when I come to invest more, I will not suffer.
What challenges have you faced or are facing now?
Everything has its own challenges and farming is one of the businesses that have huge challenges. But with endurance, passion and determination, I was able to overcome some of them. The biggest of the challenges is how labourers will treat your farm in the beginning, also sometimes they will charge you more than the normal prices. Also, to get the farm is difficult, you know rice can best be produced in an irrigation area and such place is difficult to get.
But for this season, the biggest challenge is fertilizer, especially to middle class farmers or small farmers like me. I bought two bags now and I have to buy two more before I harvest my rice. The first two cost N47,000 and I need more of that. So, it is a big challenge for us. That is why I am still looking for a way to reduce the spending because if care is not taken, we may end up at a loss.
Also, to get modern equipment is a big challenge as it relates to money which most of the local farmers lack.
How do you juggle studies with farming?
Well, that is a bit tasking. But with focus and determination, I am able to manage the two. What I normally do is, I go to the farm during weekends and during my free times. Whenever I am in school and my attention is needed on the farm, I simply assign someone to look after the farm for me and I follow up after. But it is tasking and challenging, I have to continue managing that way until I am done with my studies.
What are your future plans in farming?
I want to be a big farmer and I want farming to be my job. I have ambition to venture into other segments of farming not only to limit myself on rice. I have a dream of establishing my own food production company.
What advice do you have for young people like you?
They should embrace farming. It is paying and worth depending on. But they should bear in mind that it is not for a lazy man. They should be strong enough and get ready to face challenges, but they will succeed if they work hard.