…as women take over harvest activities
The womenfolk are fast dominating harvest activities in Katsina State, a development that is generating mixed feelings among the farmers.
Daily Trust reports that over the years, only elderly women, mostly widows, were known to partake in sieving farm produces during harvest, while men handled the main job of threshing the grains off the cobs or pods.
According to the farmers, married women and young girls now engage in thrashing and sieving maize, beans, soybeans, rice and sorghum to earn a living.
Our correspondent in the state, however, reports that farmers are now complaining of a rise in produce theft.
Malam Shu’aibu Sani, a farmer in Danja, said the proliferation of married and young women in harvest activities started from 2016 and the development has its merits and demerits.
“In the past, only the elderly women engaged in sieving farm produces, while the rest of the hardest work was left for men to undertake but the economic situation in 2016 forced many young women to delve into the full harvest activities of rice, soybeans and maize and the tempo has not reduced till date,” he said.
Sani added that through farm work, many women are eking out a living while some of them have realised the required capital to start up small businesses.
Most of the women and girls who are into farm work are either widows, divorcees, orphans or the other less privileged who were finding it hard to sustain their lives,” he noted.
He however added that another problem many farmers are facing while working with the women is the theft of farm produce by some bad eggs among them.
“If you are working with them, you have to give them close supervision because many of them are out to make it by any means possible therefore they have dubious ways of cheating farmers,” he said.
Another farmer, Atiku Lurwanu, said the mischievous women usually come to farms in droves with small children who would divert the attention of the farmer or whoever was assigned to supervise them while they were pilfering the produce.
“If they are many, they will do the work shabbily later on in the day or next day they will come back and mop up what they call leftovers, and in the process they veer into the neighbouring farms to steal their produce. The situation is becoming a source of concern among farmers,” said Lurwanu.
He added that the women have now introduced a daily rotational contribution of farm produce among themselves, which they mop up daily as leftovers from various farms.
This, according to him, causes theft as every woman will try to refund the contribution by any means.
One of the women, Uwani Ado, told this reporter that before 2016, there was decency and trust in the way and manner they mobilized and worked in farms but after the young girls found their way into the work, suspicion started brewing between the farmers and them.
“As elderly women, we know what it takes for a farmer to produce crops in his farm, besides our late husbands were peasant farmers, therefore, it is hard to see one of us pilfering farm produces. Young girls who don’t know the cost and processes of farming think that farmers are getting the produce on a platter of gold,” Uwani said.
She added that the bad behaviour of some of them was fast dissuading farmers from working with women. “Some now prefer to employ the fabricated thrashing machines to harvest their farms while some farmers are doing the sieving themselves to avoid pilfering of their produce,” she said.
She further said for them that are no longer of marriage age, farm work helps in keeping them busy and sourcing what to eat with their dependents.