Hope Manzawet is a student at the abuja university studying Agricultural Sciences. She also owns a fish farm in the federal capital of Nigeria.
Mrs. Manzawet started farming in 2019 together with her father. She continued to run the business after her father’s death in November 2021. Since then, she has been in charge of the farm that has nearly 1,000 fish.
In this episode of our Women in Agriculture series, Ms. Manzawet tells PREMIUM TIMES the challenges she faces as a student and farmer.
PT: How did your journey into agricultural practice begin?
Ms. Manzawet: My journey through agriculture has not been easy. I grew up knowing that my civil servant parents were also farmers. I never wanted to go into farming because of the mindset I had about farming. But after high school I was admitted to study Agriculture at the university, even though I applied for Medicine/Surgery. So I wasn’t happy when I started my first year in college. Obviously, it was not what I wanted, so I was advised by some professors from my department, but after thinking twice, I changed my mind and mindset and started to love agriculture. My fish farm is in my house. I have two ponds built.
PT: Why do you combine agriculture and education?
Ms. Manzawet: I find farming very lucrative because it has helped me in every way. I’m in the fish farm. I have a good understanding of everything involved in catfish production, from day one to maturity. And I have gotten a lot of benefits from it, which has helped me a lot to settle my bills.
PT: Tell us about the challenges you face as a student and a farmer.
Mrs. Manzawet: Sometimes I can’t take care of my fish farm properly due to my studies. Trying to meet my educational goals and taking care of my fish farm has been a great challenge.
PT: Do you receive support from your family?
Ms. Manzawet: Yes, I get the most support from my family. Whenever I’m at school, they take care of the fish.
PT: Tell us about how you were able to raise capital for agriculture when you were a student.
Mrs. Manzawet: I couldn’t raise capital, so I depended on my father. When I got admission, I partnered with my dad to start the fish farming business. So my dad started financing the business and then I took care of the fish. We didn’t share the profits as he still took care of most of my bills, school fees and food. My father later died, but the business is still going. When we started, my dad financed it.
Then we made the first sales and reinvested the profit in the business. Initially we bought 500 fingerlings and then increased to 650 fingerlings after the first few sales. Later, after the death of my father, we began to take a little of the profit but we never touched the principal. We calculate all expenses before touching the benefit. This is because we want the business to continue.
PT: The association comes with incentives like loans, etc. Do you belong to any farmers association?
Ms. Manzawet: No, I don’t belong to any farmers’ association. But I know there are associations. I have not joined for certain reasons like time to attend your meetings and paying dues (not a major issue).
PT: Insecurity is a big challenge facing farmers in Nigeria. Have you faced security issues?
Mrs. Manzawet: No, I have not faced a problem of insecurity. The fish pond is at my house and the enclosure is fenced.
PT: The Nigerian government has always supported farmers as a way to ensure food security in the country. These supports come in different forms through loans or inputs. Have you ever received government support?
Ms. Manzawet: I have not received any support from the government. I’ve heard on the news that they make provisions for agriculture, but I’ve never taken the time to seriously track such benefits.
PT: The market is a big problem for farmers. Do you have a market for your products?
Mrs. Manzawet: I already have clients, I sell my fish from home and I sell it in bulk. Once the fish are ready to catch, I call several people (customers) who will always buy.
PT: You will graduate soon, what are your plans for the farm?
Ms. Manzawet: After college I want to build more ponds and increase the fish population. I want to expand the business.