SOUTHERN Kaduna Ginger is said to be one of the best in the whole world. If giving necessary attention, it can bring tremendous development because of its high demand in the International Market. In this Interview with our correspondent, ISRAEL BULUS, Hassan Yaro, a dealer in ginger business, who had already put in over 35-years in the trade shares his experiences.
Excerpts: Q. How would you describe ginger business in Southern Kaduna?
Southern Kaduna ginger business, is a lucrative business that can developed the entire state without Federal Government allocation. As one who has experience in the business for over 35-years, I wish to advise the youth in the region to take advantage to join the business in order to change their fortunes. One person cannot handle the business because of its high demand locally and internationally. Taking into consideration the idleness of most of our youths i believe they should see this business as an opportunity to help themselves. Our ginger is said to be the best in the whole world because of its high demand in the local and international Markets. Southern Kaduna farmers can take advantage of the global ginger market the high demand to earn foreign exchange as the country explores opportunities to grow its non-oil export source of revenue. The product is one of the most widely used food seasonings in modern diets which could play a vital role in earning substantial capital not only for our farmers but the state and for the country at large as demand for the crop continues to rise in the local and international Market. I am calling on the youth to all join ginger farming business. It is in this business that I got married, blessed with children and among my children, one is now studying medicine in China.
Q. What is your take concerning development of the the product in the region?
In reality, if the people of Southern Kaduna will come together in unity towards ginger business, there would be tremendous boost in it, in addition to abundant wealth among the people of the area, and something to do among the people which would reduce idleness and tendencies that is causing unnecessary crises in our communities.
Q. Who are your business partners that are always demanding for this crop?
Chinese, Europeans and Arabs are my major partners. They purchase this product in large quantities, although Nigerians do not value it very well compare to foreigners. I am appealing to our farmers to process their Ginger very well before selling it so that the buyers would be supplied with a commodity of high grade that would motivate the foreigners to pay good money for their produce. If a farmer did not dry his Ginger very well, it would lead to buyers refusing to come back as a result of the loss they are likely to suffer in the international market. Sometimes you will hear people discussing that the price of Ginger has dropped in the international market, the reason was because the Ginger is not properly dried or processed.
Q. Base on your business interaction with these foreign buyers, what would you say is the testimony regarding your products?
Accordingg to our European business partners they have testified there is no Ginger all over the world that is as good as the one produced in Southern Kaduna, particularly in spice and oil. It has also been revealed that it is only when you mix Nigerian Ginger with China Ginger before you can get the required spice, owing to the fact that China Ginger doesn’t contain the ingredient needed. If a buyer obtains Ginger from China he has to mix it with our Ginger before he can obtain the result needed.
Q. What are some of the things that can be use with Ginger?
Ginger is used for the production of many commodities. There is a certain oil that is produced from Ginger which is used for drugs production by Medical and Pharmaceutical companies. Most of the medicine people take contain Ginger, it is also used as spice in a variety of food and drinks. In a nutshell, Ginger has more than One hundred ways it is been used in the world. Some people even eat it raw which is medicinal against common cold and other related ailments.
Q. What is the challenges associated with Ginger business?
We have some challenges in the business, one of the challenges is lack of government attention in the business. The government has a way to come in and assist the people by providing befitting warehouses which would attract foreign investors to Southern Kaduna and transact the business without interference of many marketers and middlemen. The unfortunate thing is that, Ginger is been produce in Southern Kaduna but the warehouse is either in Kano or Lagos. If only there is a befitting warehouse here, the foreign buyers would stay here and process their purchases. Without warehouses, the buyers stay in Kano or Lagos and wait for middlemen to bring the Ginger to them. I’m making a passionate appeal to the government to build a befitting warehouses and lease them out to people in order to take the business to another level. This gesture would enable the foreign buyers to come directly and stay here, a gesture that would provide more profit and jobs opportunities for many. A trailer truck carries Seven Hundred bags of Ginger, and processing a bag of Ginger which many women do is one hundred naira per bag. So, every trailer load would provide the women the opportunity to earn seventy thousand naira. I personally in a week can buy Ginger worth Seven trailers. If you calculate seven trailer loads, with the women processing and the men loading, to earn money on daily basis, you can see the economic effect it would have here. Without the warehouses, here in Southern Kaduna we’ll only suffer, while others that do not farm reap the dividends. Apart from that every vehicle that would leave the warehouse will pay a levy of about two hundred thousand naira which will increase the revenue drive of the state.
Q. What is the current price of Ginger per bag?
The prices differ considering the buyers and the marker. It depends on the quantity and quality of the Ginger. Let me site the example of a white man Robert who was formerly transacting his business in Kano but has purchased land here in Kafanchan, Jema’a Local Government and build his warehouse where he process his commodities. He buys a bag of Ginger at the rate of thirty four thousand and four hundred naira per bag, while some buyers from Lagos buy the commodity at the rate of Twenty Seven thousand naira per bag and sometimes twenty eight thousand naira per bag. If you take this into consideration, you can sell your produce to the highest bidder if they continue coming.
Q. There is an allegation that some business men from Kano have branded their bags with their company addresses bearing Kano which prompted some foreign buyers to assume that Ginger is being produced in Kano. Please how true is this allegation?
The Kano business men have for long been clever ahead of us in this business. They are not the producers, but in the eyes of the international marketers, they are considered the producers. The same implies to Lagos. Most of the foreigners in the past were only exposed to the finished goods in Lagos and Kano but today we are happy that they are aware that the Ginger is produced in Southern Kaduna and not Kano or Lagos. Some buyers have been taken to Ginger farms in the villages.
Q. What would be your appeal to the Government to grow your business ?
My appeal goes to the Government of Kaduna state to ensure that the state has a road connected to a railway station where Ginger can be transported directly to the ports in Lagos for exports. In addition, the Government should build warehouses for the business so that it would attract foreigners to Kaduna State geared to provision of employment and generation of revenue. This commodity is a natural resources that God has blessed Southern Kaduna with, the revenue that would be derived from the business would be used for the developmental projects in the state. We want to reap the dividends of our labour and not allow “Monkey de work, baboon de chop”. situation to continue.
Q. Apart from Government intervention, do you think there is any other way that other organizations can come in to assist the people of Southern Kaduna in development of Ginger business?
If the people of Southern Kaduna are enlightened very well everybody can be involved. Our stakeholders, politicians and well to do individuals can empowered many people to join the business and lift it higher and move it forward. When the educated sons and daughters of Southern Kaduna stop over dependence on white collar jobs and allocations from crude oil, Ginger business will grow well. Ginger is our crude oil, and taking into consideration the fall of price of crude oil attention is now turning to agriculture, and since the area has been blessed with Ginger, there is need for our educated youth to be involved fully because, they are educationally prepared to perform successful business, unlike in the past when the farmers are only into farming but do not go into buying and selling. A lot of people in Southern Kaduna have the knowledge of what is going on concerning Ginger transactions in the international market through browsing in the internet and they should take advantage of this knowledge.
Q. How many tons of Ginger do you export in a week?
It depends on the contract that I am involved. Although I will say that I don’t have a season for the business. If there is demand and money available, I can supply 5 trailers loads of Ginger in one day. The challenge however is that we sometimes do not have place to store our products. There is no day that we do not purchase one or two trailers loads of Ginger.
Q. As for now, how many warehouses do you have?
We have limited warehouses in Southern Kaduna that is the reason why you see many people processing their Ginger in open places. If you check around, most of the people that have warehouses are not up to ten. If you enter Kafanchan, you will see the people in all nooks and crannies of the town processing their Ginger in the open.
Q. As an international Ginger businessman, do you have your personal warehouse where at any time a buyer wants to buy Ginger, he can come and purchase it from you?
Yes, I have my personal warehouse and also branches. I also have boys that I have empowered and they buy the commodity for me in surrounding villages various area. Q. You said that Southern Kaduna is the main producer of Ginger, is there any company that is processing the products as raw material here? No!, there is no company that is processing Ginger or using Ginger as raw material. I am calling on the Government of Kaduna State to do something about this. There is an abandoned Ginger processing plant in Kachia which has all machines that can process Ginger to high quality but it is not functioning. The company was established to process or manufacture some commodities with it. Our Ginger can be used to produce oil, soft drinks, powder and many more but there is no company that is harnessing this opportunity. I am even suggesting that Ginger maggi can be produced for people’s consumption since it is used for cooking. Ginger tea, and juice can also be produced. This production will provide job opportunities for our teeming youths. If our youths are trained in entrepreneurship, they will not scramble for white collar jobs all the time.