By Mary Adebayo
Talk about farm workers’ saga. What is liberality! Can anyone enlighten my understanding of what kind of relationship should be expected, between farm owners and their workers for outstanding success? I mean, what kind of relationship should be promoted or practiced among farm owners and the workers? Perhaps, my thoughts could be better understood this way: What are the proven modus operandi for effectiveness and good success in our various establishments? Do I relate with my workers the way I do with my family members, friends, apprentice, maids, and servants?
My dialogues with great farmers and their workers put me in the world of unending thoughts! I kept revisiting Owonikoko and Ajenifuja farming worlds with many questions unanswered. Could this song by Nigeria’s Ebenezer Obey, the great artiste be true? ‘Ko sogbon to le da, ko siwa to le hu, ko sona to le gba to le fi taye lorun o’ (There is nothing you do that can please the world). Here is a brief narration of encounters with these farmers. Owonikoko was a big time farmer. His poultry processing industry was located at Ajelanwa Estate. It was a big company covering about 350 hectares of land. It was majoring purely on the production and processing of livestock species such as broilers, turkeys, goose, and layers. At the entrance of the farm gate was placed strategically, the rules and regulations governing operations.
Workers were allowed to operate freely. Majority of them reside in the farm quarters and paying nothing, just to make them comfortable at their point of duty. But, to his surprise, the workers living outside the farm resume earlier on daily basis than those residing on the farm. Until he stopped allowing them to share cracked eggs, the number of cracks escalated daily. His holiday period, spent on the farm, revealed so many heart-broken deals, especially of the mortality records. Until then, they all wondered what kind of strains were their stocks? Many a times, the source of the birds were queried? One would be shocked comparing the difference in data gathered while he was present day and night on the farm with the previous ones.
To his amazement, the video recordings of the Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) installed on the farm got him weakened to the marrow seeing managers, the clergyman-in-charge of the farm’s chapel and that of the mosque, conniving with each other for farm looting! Ha! Human being could be so wicked to an innocent man, who used his own sweat to put food on their family tables! But, contrary to the above disposition was Ajenifuja’s relationship with his workers. He was such a pleasant man I have ever met in my life. Full of smiles and great enthusiasm with people that come his way. He would first complement you with a gentle voice, saying “treat others as you would loved to be treated”, after the exchange of normal pleasantries.
These were his words, during a press interview: “Why would I treat men like dogs, except they prove to be one?” He told the correspondent that interviewed him as he bagging the Best Grain Exporter of the Year Award and when he was asked the secrets behind his success story. His answer was, “my principle is treat others as you loved to be treated. Treating my staff exactly, as I wanted, has really worked for me over the years of my toiling. I never kept this principle to myself. They all know it and worked with it. In fact and often times, the only and last stage of their interviews – that was when I am always featured, which oftentimes determine whether they are getting the job or not. I don’t mince my words about it. I ensure that I make myself, as clear as possible, to each of them, no matter their level”.
“I make sure that there is usually a one-on-one meeting with me and my workers. I ensure personal dialogues with me that are well-documented and recorded with interview sessions kept in duplicates. This allows both parties to review them when the need arises. When any of them err, I call him or her to order based on these recordings. It makes my work a lot easier. I don’t sack them. They do the needful on their own volition once they couldn’t abide with their promises. On my part, I reward faithful workers openly based on our working principles and laid down principles, which sometimes could go beyond their imagination. For instance, I got into the office one day and handed over car keys each with their documents to the best cleaner and receptionist during the farming season!
“It was the talk of the whole farm! Others got morale-boosting packs to encourage them to put in more efforts. Surprises on their own and/or family special days was like a norm. Many of our so-called outlets were started as the company’s annex and run for some years until capable of being self-financing. Another scenario was when our deputy manager woke up one day becoming the owner of the farm with signed agreements with the company directors (my family members) as well as and his own family members while our farm produce were pulled together and marketed at once! My workers ended up running my farm and it recorded outstanding performance beyond my imagination, and we enjoyed the proceeds together, based on individual’s level of contributions”, he added.
Alas! There came a time at old age when Ajenifuja had to be flown outside the country on health grounds. He was diagnosed of having a terminal disease and some people thought he would never make it back alive! But alas, they were proved wrong as the Most High dictates, who dies or lives! Ajenifuja made it. Behold, I am here with same question; how can a young graduate in agriculture like Ibukunoluwa be made to willingly to go into farming and fully handle his farm workers for effectiveness? I wait your feedbacks. Thank you for this shared experience, as we reason together to guide our youths aright in the quest to realising outstanding tasks for attaining national development.
Dr. (Mrs.) Mary Adebayo is a young researcher in Animal Physiology. Her research interest focuses on livestock production and environmental influences on their performance in the tropics. She has been a teacher of agricultural science at both primary and secondary levels of education in Nigeria for more than two decades. She is passionate about animal production in a serene environment with minimal usage of drugs. She consults for livestock farmers based on her wealth of knowledge and experience on the relevance of animal physiology for improved production performance of every farm animal. She can be reached, via: firstname.lastname@example.org