…Says, “Nigerians don’t value it very well compared to foreigners.”
by Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
SOUTHERN Kaduna Ginger is said to be one of the best produce in the whole world. If, given necessary attention, it can bring tremendous development because of its high demand in the international market.
In this Interview with our correspondent, Achadu Gabriel, the guest, Hassan Yaro, a dealer in ginger business, who had already put in over 35 years in the ginger business, shared his experience with a European business partner. Excerpts:
Q. How can you describe ginger business in Southern Kaduna?
Southern Kaduna ginger business is a lucrative business that can develop the entire state without federal government’s allocation. But for 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 misfortunes.
One person cannot handle the business, because of its high demand locally and internationally, taking into consideration the idleness most youths are spending without jobs, which will not help them prosper in life.
Our ginger is said to be the best product in the whole world. We have testified that because of its high demand in the local and international market.
Southern Kaduna farmers can take advantage of the global ginger market’s high demand to earn foreign exchange as the country explores opportunities to grow its non-oil export.
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 youths 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 region, if the people of Southern Kaduna put their heads together?
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 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, compared 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 will lead to the buyers refusing to come back as a result of the loss they have suffered 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. Based on your business interaction with these foreign buyers, what would you say is the testimony regarding your products?
According 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 spice needed. If a buyer obtained 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 used with ginger?
Ginger is being used for the production of many commodities. There is certain oil that is being produced from ginger, which is used for drugs production by medical and pharmaceutical companies.
Most of the medicines people take contain ginger. It is also being used as spice in variety of foods and drinks. In a nutshell, ginger has more than one hundred ways it is being used in the world. Some people even eat it raw, which is medicinal against common cold and other related ailments.
Q. What are the challenges associated to ginger business?
We have some challenges in the business; one of the challenges is lack of government’s 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.
The unfortunate thing is that, ginger is being produced 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 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, this will make the women processing and, the men loading, to earn money on daily basis.
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 must pay levy of two hundred thousand naira, which will increase revenue drive of the state.
Q. What is the current price of ginger per bag?
The prices differ, considering the buyers and the marketer. 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 built his warehouse where he processes his commodities.
He buys a bag of ginger at the rate of thirty-four thousand and four hundred naira (N34,400) per bag, while some buyers from Lagos buy the commodity at the rate of twenty-seven thousand naira (N27,000) per bag and, sometimes, twenty-eight thousand naira (N28,000) 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 businessmen 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 businessmen 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 being considered the producers. The same applies 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 being 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 passionate appeal to the government?
My appeal goes to the Government of Kaduna – to ensure that the state has a port 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 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.”
Q. Apart from government’s intervention, do you think there is any other way that other organizations can come in to assist the people of Southern Kaduna in the 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 empower 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 on the fall of price of crude oil, attention is now turning to agriculture, and since the area has been blessed with the ginger, there is need for our educated youths 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.
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 trailer-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 cannot purchase one or two trailers 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, that is, in all nooks and crannies of the town processing their ginger in front of people’s houses.
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 various areas. I can go to them and collect supply anytime the need arise.
Q. You said that Southern Kaduna is the main producer of ginger. Is there any company that is processing the products as raw material?
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 on this issue. There is an abandoned Ginger Processing Plant in Kachia, which has all machines that can process ginger to high quality, but it is not being utilized.
The only activity is people to buy ginger and process it and sell to buyers. That is all. 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 magi” 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 must not scramble for ‘white collar’ jobs all the time.