Scores of young men and secondary school students engage in selling yams to support themselves and their families at a particular location known as sharp corner or Yan Lilo, behind the Bauchi State High Court in the heart of Bauchi city.
Our correspondent who visited the spot observed them busy attending to prospective customers and some of them shared their experiences.
Bello Abubakar, an SSS3 student, told Daily Trust on Sunday that he quit training as a mechanic to join the yam venture. “I was an apprentice mechanic, learning how to repair motorcycles, but unfortunately, a new road construction by the government displaced our garage and we were forced to leave the area.
“After leaving the location, our boss couldn’t secure another garage to continue the work and so a relative who sells yam at the junction behind the High Court advised me to join him instead of sitting at home idle. I agreed and gradually embraced the job. From the proceeds of this business, I was able to pay my West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO) fees.
“I am 20 years old and I must confess that through this venture, I have helped myself in various ways. During the last rainy season, flood affected our house and my father had no money to rebuild the house, I gave him my savings from the yam business to do the reconstruction. The money was used to rebuild the rooms and buy a new door,” Abubakar said.
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Abubakar explained, “This yam business is now my source of livelihood, especially for food, clothing and other basic necessities as well as my pursuit for education. Glory be God, there’s been an improvement in the business unlike before. We used to buy from the market in Bauchi but we’ve grown to the level of going outside the state to source from farmers and dealers in large quantity.
Abubakar further revealed, “We travel to Lafia in Nasarawa State to buy yams to sell to consumers or food vendors. There are different categories of yams and depending on their sizes, we buy them for N35,000, N50,000, N80,000 and up to N100,000 per Kwarya (a mound of 100 tubers). For instance, when we buy that of N80,000, we sell it between N100,000 and N120,000. When we buy a mound of N45,000, we sell it for about N60,000 or more.”
Abubakar disclosed that they also train their younger ones and friends, especially those who are idle, adding, “When our younger siblings close from school, they come to the junction and understudy the market strategy gradually and when we close for the day, we give them stipend to encourage them.”
“If the school hour is in the afternoon, they came in the morning and when it’s 12 noon, we give them transport fare to go to school. However, most of them are schooling in the nearby Bakari Secondary School and so they come with their school uniform. When it’s time, they change and move to the school,” Abubakar added.
Another yam seller, tTwenty-one-year-old Yusuf Sani, popularly known as Daru, described the yam business as a saving grace for him and his family, saying, “I will never forget how selling yam has become a turning point for me and my family.”
Daru said, “I started selling yam seven years ago and I have benefited a lot from it. I am in secondary school today because of proceeds from the business. Today, I wear good clothes, buy food stuff for my family and cater to the basic needs of my younger ones. During Sallah festivity, I buy new clothes for all my siblings. I equally buy between two or more sets of new clothes for my father during that period.”
Daru explained, “I started selling yam like a joke but today, the profit has changed my mindset and I’m already thinking of improving it from local to international level. God’s willing, I want to grow to the level of selling yams abroad because ideas begin with a dream and is followed by action. I already know the market strategy because I now buy yams either from dealers here in Bauchi or travel to Shendam in Plateau State to buy yams for sale in Bauchi.
“Even when I buy a mound (100 tubers) from dealers here in Bauchi for between N45,000 to N50,000, I sell it N60,000 or more depending on the patronage. We usually display five tubers for N2000. Food vendors buy in bulk. We witness high patronage whenever workers receive their salary at the end of the month,” Daru added.
Responding on selling the yams on credits, Daru said, “Yes, we sell on credit to only customers that we know closely but I think the secret of the high patronage here is the affordable prices because we add small profits to encourage and woo our customers.”
Another young trader Abubakar Abdullahi told Daily Trust on Sunday that their yam spot is gaining popularity due to affordability of the commodity, availability as well as quality of their yam.
Abdullahi said, “This is my fourth year of selling yam here and the patronage keeps increasing. Customers come from different locations to buy yam, and they end up bringing or referring their friends and neighbours to come and buy yam from us (our location).
“I am 18 years old. Selling yam here has significantly helped my life, particularly my quest to acquire formal education. I am now in SS3 at the Bakari Dukku Secondary School and my school fees, money for books and educational materials are generated from the profits of yam sales, alhamdullilah,” Abdullahi said.
Abdullahi, who advised fellow young men in Bauchi to shun idleness and restiveness, said, “I want to advise my fellow youths to shun idle living and stop chasing after politicians, but rather engage in productive ventures, no matter how small, so they can fend for themselves. We all chose not to follow any politician for thuggery or unproductive campaign but instead learnt how to buy and sell yam, and alhamdullilah, today many of us are doing well.”
A food vendor and customer of the young traders Hadiza Sani told Daily Trust on Sunday that she prefers to patronise them to encourage the youth. “I preferred to buy yam from these young and promising youth because they are setting a good example for their peers who just sit down and while away time or engage in youth restiveness.”
Hadiza said the boys have mastery of varieties of yams for local dishes and their prices are quite affordable.
Another customer who was seen buying yam, Nasir Danjuma, said he buys from them because “they sell quality yam that is good for pounding and the prices are not high.”