In many rural economies, what farmers do during the off season is very important in both stabilizing and increasing their household income. What obtains in Nigeria is akin to what obtains in many developing countries.
The farmers’ wife is not idle. She is usually very active and most times it is difficult to attach a value to what she does.
Rural off-farm activities include agro-processing; (but not exclusive) to the following economic activities:
- Sewing, Crochet and Knitting
- Adire (Tie and Dye) and Batik.
- Agro processing or manufacture of some Agricultural products like
- Sheer Butter
- Coconut oil and Coconut butter.
- Melon seed oil
- Melon seed cake
- Buying, Selling and Sewing of materials and all kinds of fabrics for all categories of dresses and school uniforms in the rural areas.
The income so derived from these economic activities can be very high especially if the farmers engage laborers to help. Some of these workers could be paid or unpaid farm workers. They could also be members of the farmers family (children and relations).
Rural off-farm activities incorporate micro, small or medium-sized enterprises. Many of their products are sold by the road side to long distance travelers.
Any time I travel on project visits outside Lagos into the hinterland, I look forward to stopping by the roadside to buy Yams, Oranges, Pineapples, Gari and Sweet potatoes; they are fresh from the farm and much cheaper than in Lagos markets.
It is quite interesting when you talk to the rural farmer traders especially the women selling by the road side. Many had expressed to me over time that they would love to have:
- Better storage facilities for their Yams and all farm produce.
- More money/funds to buy vegetables in bulk rather than in baskets from the men who cultivate on the farms. The men sell on a cash and carry basis. No credit is allowed. Some male farmers supply vegetables to their wives at an agreed price and they collect their money by 4pm or latest 6pm before the sun sets.
- More small scale machines to process agricultural products like Shear nuts, Cashew, Oil palm, and so many more.
- They need more customers in the cities especially Lagos.
The conversation with the women farmers is very interesting and what I am able to deduce from these conversations is their desire for more disposable income so they can live a more fulfilled life with some fun. Many wish for better roads and pipe borne in the rural townships.
This is me on a visit to the University of Ibadan. I went round the University farm and I remembered my good old days while studying there.
TO BE CONTINUED