Coping Strategies for Farmers
Over the years farmers have struggled with a lot of difficulty on farm with no solution at all, they have adapted to a lot of struggles that have made the youth developed hatred for farming at one point or the other. Whereas Agriculture remain the major player in ensuring food security of any nation. A nation that cannot feed itself is at the mercy of other nations that are food secured. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) (2009) reported that there are about one billion people who are not food secured globally. Coping can be seen as an adaptive mechanism Conway (2012) and Swaminathan (2012) also corroborate the finding of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) (2009, 2010, 2013) that the majority of the people of the world who are food insecure live and work in the developing countries like Nigeria and some other African countries. The various causes of food insecurity, which include: increase in population that has been estimated from 7 billion in 2011 to over 9 billion in 2050, insufficient water for cultivation, the depletion in soil nutrient, evolving climate change and great land competition for urbanization. However, all this finding has neglected the importance of community, stakeholders and national peace in ensuring food security. Effective agricultural production is only feasible and realistic under a favorable environment. The fact is that no nation’s food security agenda can be implemented without the coordination of the human and environmental resources under a conducive and peaceful community medium. Similarly, all factors and elements of food production require cooperation of the stakeholders in a community system for effective and efficient production. In my own words, the efficiency, effectiveness and implementation of food production in any nation will determine the extent to which the nation can become food secured.
Farmers have developed a coping mechanism that has helped them to fight their battles, overcome their problems, maintain their balance and profit, actualize their aim, mission and vision. Nigeria consist of different farmers and while some farm vegetables, some farm cash crops, some farm livestock and many more. Obviously, the problems of each farmers are different and their adaptive mechanism will be definitely different. While a livestock farmer can cope in a farm environment that occupies thief in a larger percentage and even scare them off with red clothes tied around the livestock leg, a fluted pumpkin farmer in that same situation might not survive using that kind of method as a coping or adaptive mechanism. Let us take a look at three major farmers and the basic farm strategies they deployed in various situations.
Vegetable farmers are often faced with problems like farm robbery, pest and diseases, low profitability, irrigation related problems, lack of input among many others. Adapting to all of these struggles remains especially the struggling local farmers. Over the years, farmers developed strategies like the use of pesticide, fungicides, and all other inorganic chemicals to fight off pest and diseases so as to make sure the crop are in good quantity and not affected for the sake of profitability. Researchers and farmers developed the use better irrigation techniques for the actualization of increase in food production, during dry season vegetable farmers are faced with low productivity while some can’t even farm vegetables at all due to lack of water, some adapted to shifting their source of production to water swamped areas so as to make sure the vegetables don’t lack water. Some vegetable farmers coped with the issue of lack of input by waiting for free input from government or waiting till their plant can yield seed mature enough to plant. All of this adaptations have their merit and demerits but most of this has helped farmers achieve an increase in food production.
A case study of theft in a greenhouse
Unscrupulous group of people came to a greenhouse farm to harvest bell peppers in the middle of the night, despite having barbed wire fencing, they cut through the greenhouse net to harvest. The greenhouse farmer had to inform the Baale of the village and also the community head, he engaged the service of So Safe Corps (Vigilante) to provide night security for the farm and he also installed solar floodlight at strategic farm location to provide lightening. He also trained his staff on how to be more security conscious and he had to stop all unauthorized visit.
Fishermen are faced with a lot of difficulties ranging from ridiculous price of feeds to irrigation problems to lack of processing materials to lack of reliable source for getting fingerlings to the inability to get the right technicians. Fishermen are coping with all of this situations without adequate knowledge or technological tools, fish farmers many times got crude or traditional to adapt to their problems or situations.
Fish farmers and fish feed formulators now produce locally made feeds to replace or supplement imported feeds, as a result fish farmers and fish feed formulators have been getting positive result and productivity over the time now and many fish farmers now prefer the locally made feeds to the imported ones. Fish farmers cope with water deficit this days by either having their fish farms close to a major source of water, the rich farmers opt out for boreholes and other sources of water that constantly supply water to the ponds. Farmers cope with lack of processing materials by either collaborating with other processors around to process their harvested fish while some opt out for loans from nearby microfinance banks, banks of agriculture and other financing organization with single digit interest, low interest rate ot zero interest rate.
For some times now local fish farmers run at lost especially at the harvesting stage, retailers come to their farm to buy and they bring in their own scale to measure the fish and in many instances fishes weighed to be about 1KG by the farmer will be weighed at 250G by the retailers and this has caused a lot of low profitability for farmers. Farmers cope with this problems by getting involved with processing or getting an electrical scale that does not deceive both the seller and the buyer. Farmers also cope with this by researching for profitable market.
Poultry farmers are faced with a lot of difficulty ranging from high formulated feed price to egg theft to farm raid to kidnapping of farm owners to mortality and egg glut. Formulating own feed, producing feeds with organic materials would save farmers from using so much money to buy imported poultry feeds or expensive formulated feeds, it is good for poultry farmers to also learn how to formulate their own feed and farm crop beside it, the major part of poultry feeds is maize, if a poultry farmers have some planted maize in between his/her poultry farm, the amount used to purchase maize will reduce drastically. Poultry farmers should be more open and disciplined with their staff, don’t always take all your cracked eggs home to your family while your staff open his/her mouth to the air, try to give out SOME at least, apply discipline with your giving, apply sanctions when they cross the line. Poultry farmers and even all farmers should not walk alone, walk in two’s so as to avoid and reduce high kidnapping rate. To pay a veterinary doctor is better than having records of dead birds every day. Let us learn to contract out some major work so as to reduce” some stories that touch”
Coping strategies for farmers is a way of escape for farmers, an adaptive mechanism to solve a problem either on farm or off farm. Strategies could be traditionally done or chemically applied. Farmers goes for the widely used ones to create solutions to their problems.