By Veronica Dariya,
Asabe Awoyi, also called ‘Maman Maryam’ is a 47-year- old yam trader, who hawks yams in a small pan with only 10 pieces of tubers in it per time.
Awoyi, who resides in Sabon-gari area of Bwari Area Council of the FCT , said that she started selling yams after she got married at age 18, and had since sustained the trade.
Although she said that the trade had not really provided enough to build herself and her family a house of their own or buy a car, it had however, put enough food on the table and paid for the needs of her family.
Awoyi, who speaks Gbagyi and Hausa as well as a little pidgin English, said that the trade, which was seasonal, had its challenges.
” It is not an easy one. Sometimes, the produce we get from our farms are not enough for us to eat at home and still have to take to the market for sale.
” There’s a village in Niger State, Lambatta. That is where we sometimes buy from to sell.
” Before now, we used to buy 100 pieces from as low as N9, 000 but now, we buy same amount for N12, 000 to N15, 000 or even more.
” And the profit is not much.
” Usually, the cost depends on the season. Some people buy and hoard, then they bring them out to sell at exorbitant prices,”
Awoyi, however, called on government to support female farmers with low interest loans and subsidised fertilizer to encourage better yield.
She said that the profit she made from the sale was enough to save at least N1000 daily in thrift contribution.
This, she explained, made it easier to support her husband in meeting the school needs of for their six children, adding that the two oldest ones were in Senior Secondary School and also assist in the trade when not in school.
Awoyi, who said that with the trade, herself and husband procured a parcel of land outside their community, also said that it was a milestone for her family as they planned to build shops to rent out, to add to their source of income and also maintain the children’s needs.
She said: ” Our children are sometimes helpful with the trade. Like my first daughter, when she’s home from school, she helps me take some of the yams to the market to sell and her sales are very good.
“ She makes good profit.
” I do not pray that she struggles in future to survive like I do.
“I would want all of them to finish their education and work as professionals in various fields but if they wish to secure the trade as another source of income, it would not be a bad idea.”
Similarly, Mrs Shekwoyemi Adamu, a farmer of yams, who also cultivates other crops, said that yam cultivation was good but would need the support of government to expand and sustain it.
According to her, most people, including civil servants have gone back to the farm just to feed their families because of the present economic situation in the country.
She, however, advised that it would take more investment in agriculture to sustain it and produce largely for economic growth.
” I spend most of my days on the farm during farming season. I plant yams, sweet potatoes, maize and vegetables.
” Most times, I hire the services of young boys in our community, who help in the cultivation and the harvest of the produce.
” Sometimes I even rent additional parcel of land to cultivate the produce.
” I harvest up to a thousand pieces of yams or more if production is good and I make good profit except for the cost of transportation.
” It costs alot to produce these crops now. That is why we are calling on government to assist us with subsidised fertilizers or even loans that would help us expand cultivation.
“ This would help to boost production and ensure availability in the market.”
According to Adamu, when she is not on her farm she is at home tending to her small poultry and drying out other crops already harvested to ensure they are well preserved.
Mr John Gabaya, Chairman , Bwari Area Council, had during the planting season distributed several bags of fertilisers to some farmers to promote agriculture in the district.
Gabaya, while speaking to NAN said that his administration was working to ensure the promotion of agriculture in the district, especially to empower women and youths.
He said that modalities were being worked out to support farmers in the area in the next planting season as well as support the growth of agriculture for food sufficiency.
He also added that his administration would stop at nothing to make an impact in the lives of its residents, so that thier lives would be made better.
” This council is supposed to have tractors, agro-chemicals and the likes, to assist farmers grow their crops well but we are starting somewhere for now with hope to get better.
” Our people need these empowerment, we have identified them and hope that this step will help eradicate poverty in our society.
” Be patient with us, this is just the beginning, we will do more by the grace of God, all we need for now is your prayer and support towards all our endeavour. ”