APRA Nigeria: Experiences and voices from Ogun and Kaduna States

The household survey for APRA-Nigeria work stream (WS) 1 and 3 ran between April 9 and May 25, 2018. In Ogun State, the survey was carried out in three Local Government Areas (LGAs): Ijebu East, Imeko Afon, and Obafemi Owondo. In Kaduna State, the survey was carried out in Kachia, Chikun, and Soba. Due to budget constraints, the sample size was limited to 2,000 respondents with 1,000 respondents from each state. In each state, the sample was apportioned equally between the medium/large (500) and smallholder farms (500). The survey team consisted of one national coordinator, two state coordinators, six supervisors (three in each
State), and 36 enumerators (18 in each State).

Prior to the survey, the team was taken through the World Bank Survey Solution software training for enumerators and supervisors. “The platform is so user friendly and very simple to understand,” says Tolu Adenivi (supervisor, Ogun). Makena Wusa, enumerator in Kaduna State, emphasised the importance of recording high-quality data: “From the beginning of the field work, I was conscious of not compromising the integrity of the research. So collecting quality data was my topmost priority even with the hectic nature of the work.” (Read Amrita Saha’s recent blog, Streamlining data collection in sub-Saharan Africa, for a closer look at the Survey Solution software, and its implementation in APRA research.)

For the young enumerators (most of them fresh graduates), the survey work was not just about asking respondents a series of questions and keying their responses into the tablets. It was also about exposing them to the situations of rural farm families and witnessing the challenges that farming families encounter in their daily lives. For the MSU-APRA project, this work was an important aspect of capacity-building for the future policy analysts and policymakers in Nigeria.

The MSU General

Enumerator Joke Biobaku and the MSU General, ready to board field vehicle to the next Ward in Ogun State; credit: Milu Muyanga

Joke Biobaku was not left out of the enumeration team despite having a baby less than two years old. Her son, Jesutomisin Biobaku, was not left behind either. The MSU General, as nicknamed by the field team, celebrated his second birthday in the field. Joke says, “After preparing him for the nanny and ready for another day’s work, we got out and we were surprised with a birthday cake by my colleagues written: ‘Happy Birthday the MSU General!’ I was overwhelmed with the show of love by my field colleagues”.

Getting to the villages

Due to poor roads, most of the villages that we worked in were not easily accessible. Some villages were located in hilly terrain, far apart and linked by narrow and bushy roads not passable by motor vehicles. This forced the enumerators to rely on motorcycles as their primary means of transport within the LGAs. As Anas Umar (enumerator, Kaduna) reports, to reach some of the households it took him more than two hours by motorcycle, riding through thick jungle and swamps. “Sometimes I had to hop off the bike to enable the bike rider to pass through some rough patches before I could hop back on to continue with our journey,” he says.

In some villages, interviews could not be scheduled ahead of time due to the lack of cellphone network and some respondents initially refused to be interviewed, insisting that they had not been informed ahead of time. Makena Wusa (enumerator, Kaduna) reports that in Buruku and Kuriga communities in Kunai ward, respondents were scared of picking calls from a new number because of the current high rate kidnaping in that part of Kaduna State. This made scheduling interviews a daunting task.

Nasty experiences

Enumerators pushing a field vehicle; credit: Omotosho Ogunmola

There were some isolated cases of unforgettable and sometimes nasty experiences, too. Hannatu Usman (enumerator, Kaduna) shares, “I was on a bike, heading to a community, when the motorcycle gear failed to engage mid-hill, forcing us to roll back downhill. Luckily there was no physical injury”.

Bukunmi Ojedokun (Ogun) was denied reception by some disgruntled villagers, who believed that the survey was yet another government-mandated venture. “I could see the frustration written all over them as they narrated unmet government promises, and mistrust of the motive of the interview, as reasons for their action,” explains Bukunmi. “It was not until I had succinctly explained the rationale behind our survey that the villagers were mollified, and allowed the interviews to continue”.

Life in the village

Oladele Oladeji (supervisor, Ogun) describes life in the villages that his team worked in. “Most of the households do not have an electricity supply. Mothers usually leave behind their children as early as 8 am to go to their farm and return in the evening.”

Mary Joseph Abah (enumerator, Kaduna) was surprised to discover that some of her target villages are yet to embrace formal education, choosing instead to train their children in practical agriculture. According to Lawal Robo (Buruku, Kunai Ward, Chikun LGA), this is a way of preparing children to take over farming from their parents in the future. The youngest farmer among my respondents, 22-year-old Nazifi Iliya (Garu Ward, Soba LGA), was brought up in this way. He has already taken up agricultural practice from his father and, though lacking any formal education, runs a successful farm.

In Ogun State, Moses Olayemi (enumerator, Ogun) came across a village where farmers transport their farm produce by canoes along a 6 km river to a town known as Oke-Ayo Oyan. The river divides Ogun state and a town called Saki in neighbouring Oyo state. The river boundary is like a market where people come to buy farm produce (e.g maize, yam, cassava, and groundnuts). Besides the river, the only other means of transport to the town is by motorcycle.

Moses also reports that the majority of the farmers in the areas he worked in now use mobile phones to communicate and access information. Some farmers testified how they receive information from government agricultural extension agents on market prices, types of improved seeds to plant, where to get fertiliser at a subsidised rate from the government, and information on agricultural training dates, as well as advice on farm management practices.

Women in agriculture

Gender differences were apparent in some villages in Kaduna state. “In Soba and some parts of Chikun LGA, men take pride in marrying many wives and

Interview session in Ogun State; credit: Mariam Afolabi

having many children,” recounts Makena Wusa (enumerator, Kaduna). “Women are always indoors and thus do not participate in agricultural activities. This makes them economically worse off compared to their male counterparts.”

Mary Joseph Abah (enumerator, Kaduna) found out that, in Soba LGA, women do not engage in agricultural activities at all. A woman from Dan Wata ward in Soba told her, “My husband does not let me engage in farm work; I am not even expected to fetch water from the public tap in the village square.” When I tried asking Malam Babangida in Gamagira ward about the number of days his wife is engaged in farming, he quickly responded that his wife “does not even know the road to the farm.” He added that, culturally, it is believed that women are the weaker sex and are not expected to engage in any hard work. He also mentioned that their religion does not permit women to engage in activities that may lead to the exposure of their bodies.

Contrary to the situation in Soba, in Kachia and Chikun LGAs (all Kaduna state), women are actively involved in agriculture and, in some cases, operate independently. Mary came across Rachel Daniel (Rido ward, Chikun LGA), a young woman and student of Kaduna State University, who is involved in agriculture and supports her education with income from the sale of her farm produce. Rachel hires labour, and sometimes engages in the farm work if she has less academic work.

Warm and hospitable communities

Despite the challenges faced by the rural communities, their hospitality remained unfaltering. In Kalapi community in Rido ward of Chikun, Anas Umar (Kaduna) reports: “On arrival, I saw the environment and the kind of life the people led, with no potable water, and no electricity. I arrived at the traditional leader’s palace, which is called the Sarki. I introduced myself and he welcomed me full of excitement, taking me to my first respondent. At the respondent’s home, I was warmly welcomed and served with their traditional meal – which I had never come across before.”

Instrument piloting session in Ogun State; credit: Milu Muyanga

Not only did the communities share food with the enumerators, they also allowed enumerators to use their phones, and some acted as local guides. Mary (Kaduna) recalls how the community leader she met in Buruku (Chikun LGA) used his personal mobile phone to contact all her respondents in his community. In Boham community, Gidan Tagwai (Kachia LGA), Mary reports that youths were assigned to serve as their local guides to the houses of all the respondents.

What did we learn?

The data collection exercise exposed the respondents to the realities of rural life. For Alamu Ridwan (Ogun), the survey was an opportunity to learn about the culture, local dialect and predominant crops in Ogun state. It gave him a deep insight into the challenges and constraints that farmers face in their farming activities – especially the poor infrastructure, and the lack of extension services, things he had not thought about before: “I was able to relate all the classroom lessons with reality,” he states.

Hannatu Usman (Kaduna) had always thought that since those who feed the nation are the rural people, then they must be wealthier and healthier. “I was shocked,” she says. “That was not the case during my interaction with some of the respondents. My big unanswered question is: why are the people who feed our nation still among the poorest?”

Hannatu’s question evoked that on the lips of many of the enumerators: why do most farmers in Nigeria still remain poor and operate small pieces of land, despite having access to huge tracts of land? Poor access to infrastructure perhaps answers them both. Most of them lack access to capital and mechanisation to expand their scale of operation. Most of them also have poor or no access to markets at all due to bad roads and connections in and around their villages, and they lack storage facilities to store surplus produce. Thus, there is no motivation to produce more that they can consume.

“There is no doubt about the huge developmental disparity that exists between urban and rural areas in the three LGAs I worked in,” notes Oladele Oladeji (supervisor, Ogun). “For me, it seems that the majority of the rural population are totally ignored. I could see this clearly in all the villages we visited. Poor infrastructure characterised these villages. I observed cases of malnutrition, improper hygiene, absence of quality healthcare services, low quality education, and lack of potable water supplies.”

Interview session in Kaduna; credit: Mela Tadi

Despite very many sad cases of struggling farmers, cases of successful farming were encountered. Mary came across a farmer in Kachia, Mr Bello Kure, who bought a truck worth 1.5m Naira with income from the sale of ginger alone. Another young farmer, Kiya Bala, of Gidan Tagwai ward, Kachia LGA, is a proud owner of an elegant apartment, a Toyota Camry car and a herd of cattle, among other assets he has acquired in his 4 years of farming. He is a university graduate who struggled to get a job in Lagos for over 7 years before he ventured into farming.

Personal development

Hannatu Usman (Kaduna) reveals that the APRA survey helped her develop more teamwork skills and increased her tolerance level. She says, “The survey brought together different people from different backgrounds and we stayed and worked together as one big family under the APRA umbrella. That was really wonderful. Everyone that took part in the APRA survey is now a friend, a brother and a sister.”

To Osinowo Tukunbo (supervisor, Ogun), a PhD student and Ministry of Agriculture staff member, participation in this research project helped him to strengthen his capacity for data collection. He says he is now confident in his ability to lead large-scale surveys in the future.

All in all, meeting the demands of collecting data of uncompromising quality, in a rural setting characterised by poor infrastructure, was not a simple task. “Despite the many challenges”, says Prof Adebayo Aromolaran (National Survey Coordinator), “we had a job to do, and we got the job done.”

Written by Milu Muyanga