Issahaku Sayibu is a subsistence farmer in Dulzugu, and he grows cassava, yam, maize, chilli pepper, cowpea and groundnuts, using only chemical fertilisers when he has the money, to feed his family of 10.
At the time of this interview, in late May, he had not yet started to plant his crops, but the land was ploughed and ready, waiting for the rains to begin. The first rains usually fall in early May, and this is the best time to plant maize. Issahaku was in doubt as to whether he should sow the maize at all this year because it will not have time to grow strong enough before the rains start more heavily. Meanwhile he has grown lean, by this time of year he should have some grown up crops already but the weather has been continuously changing for the last 10 years at least.
Issahaku uses only chemical fertiliser on his crops, and he says he has always had to use it to farm his land. His father did not need to use fertiliser, but when Issahaku started farming he began using chemicals because many other people were, and at this time it was cheap. However, over the years his soil has deteriorated. The biggest problem he is facing due to chemicals is that during the dry season the land dries very quickly, making it more necessary to use chemicals the next year. Issahaku explains: “I always farm, but there is never enough food”. Only groundnuts are constant since they don’t require fertiliser at all.
He rears animals, but during the last dry season he had to sell half of his goats to buy fertiliser and seeds. His wife works hard to pick and process Shea nuts for selling, which provides the majority of their income.
He reserve his seeds from the previous year. Sometimes, however his seeds have been infested with insects and he has had to buy from the market. He generally gets a poor yield.
Issahaku is aware of organic farming, but has not yet tried it. People have told him it is good, and although he hasn’t yet practiced it himself to see the benefits, he would like to try. He has heard of ORDF and is ready to be a part of it.