How ASUU strike ignited my passion for farming — Student

Chisom Mefor, a 400-level computer science student at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, resides in Abuja with her family.

Ms Mefor, 22, has a passion for creative writing and technology but has extended it to agriculture. In this episode of our series, she tells PREMIUM TIMES how she is benefitting from the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff University Union that began in February 2022.

For her, farming is the best thing that has happened to her.

PT: Can you put us through your journey in agriculture?

Mrs Mefor: I started in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. I stayed at home doing nothing, it was a waste of time, talent and energy. I decided to start a fish farm. I started with less than a hundred fingerlings but most of them died. It wasn’t a good experience. I wished I had bought a laptop with the money, but I don’t regret it. In December 2021, I attended a religious event where I met a man, a farmer and an exporter.

He also grows mushrooms in commercial quantities. He then introduced me to mushroom farming. I started reading up about them. Mushrooms have high nutritional value but a good number of Nigerians don’t eat them, including myself. It has high export value.

But I have a challenge, a guaranteed market because Nigerians may not patronise me. I’m at home because of the strike. If they call off the strike, how will I sustain it? That’s been my journey, I keep pushing despite the setbacks.

I also have 96 birds in the poultry farm and they are ready for sale, then I will restock to sell again. I have 56 stacks of mushrooms.

PT: Your business failed in 2020, how did you raise capital for this current business?

Mrs Mefor: I didn’t need a huge capital to start the mushroom business, almost all the materials required are free. Like sawdust which is the main thing that you put in the substrate bags. You need the seedlings, then the bags. I buy the bags at N30.

READ ALSO: No end in sight as ASUU strike enters third month

I wish people knew the health benefits of mushrooms and its value in the international market. I know there is money there. I hope to sustain myself from the profit I make. I’m learning how to eat it.

PT: Let’s talk about your fish, how did you raise the capital for it in 2020? What do you think led to the loss?

Mrs Mefor: I raised capital through support from my parents and a little savings. Then I was a novice so I was super worried about them, I changed the water daily, I bring the fishes out and leave them then take time to refill. The stress was much on the animals. It was after the loss I realised all the mistakes I made.

I met another farmer who told me she rarely puts her hand or even changes the water. So the person who taught me about fish farming also experienced the loss but he reestablished himself and I keyed into it. So I pay N600,000 and get a return on investment of 30 per cent, that is N900,000 within a period of five to six months. The market is available. Your business is also guaranteed. So we used the profit from the fishes to fund some parts of mushroom and poultry.

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