Hundreds of youths, particularly those displaced by insurgents and other residents of Maiduguri in Borno State, are taking advantage of the sugarcane season to make fortunes, Daily Trust reports.
A cross section of the youths who spoke to our correspondent said they were making it big from sugarcane business.
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Yahaya Musa said that the sugarcane season offered ample opportunities for the teeming youths in Maiduguri and other towns in the state to generate income.
Musa said, “Although this trade is not for lazy or weak people, we that have ventured into it are getting our daily bread, clothes and other basic necessities. We have some people who have built houses and bought vehicles from the sugarcane business.
“Some of the youths offload the sugarcane from trailers and load them into smaller trucks and are being paid for their services while others are retailers who buy from dealers and sell to other young men and teenagers to hawk.
“We buy a bundle of sugarcane at N3,700 from dealers and retail it between N4,200 and N4,300. However, recently the profit from sugarcane has drastically reduced due to scarcity. The sales have dropped due to the increase of price. Last year, we bought a bundle of sugarcane at N2,000, but this year, at the beginning of the season, it’s more than N3,000 per bundle.”
Sadiq Ma’aji (18) also told Daily Trust that the patronage of sugarcane had reduced due to scarcity.
He complained that sometimes one hardly made up to N700 profit after a hectic and stressful day hawking.
Ahmed Abdu (20), around Baga Road Sugarcane market, said the business had been helping him in meeting his needs, adding that he made money from it to cater for his family.
A dealer of sugarcane in Baga Road Sugarcane market, Muhammed Jidda, told Daily Trust that the sugarcane season had offered opportunities for young adults, especially Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), saying it had transformed them with some of them building houses, buying cars and raising capital to do other businesses.
Jidda said, “Right now we have graduated some youths from retailers to dealers and they now have their own capital going to other states to buy sugarcane and sell in the market. They can equally venture into other trades of their choice when the season is off.”
According to him, there are two categories of youths in the market: the ones that buy in bundles (‘yan baji or basukara) and display in the market to sell and the second category are those who buy in pieces.
He said, “They come with N150 or N300 to buy a stick or more, especially on Thursdays and Saturdays when there are no classes in Arabic schools. They scrape it and enter the town to sell; sometimes the profit doubles. Recently, a 15-year-old boy who I gave a stick of sugarcane as capital was able to raise a profit of over N4,000 within a short period.
“One astonishing thing about the sugarcane business is that many other IDPs instead of begging for alms and food have joined the trade and are now doing well; comfortably running their families with ease. We are very lucky with a patriotic Governor in Borno, Babagana Umara Zulum, who has firmly stood to ensure that our villages taken over by insurgents are fully liberated and people return to their homes and farms because if we don’t have villages, our towns will also varnish.”
He expressed joy that the effort being made to resettle people back to their ancestral homes had started yielding results, adding that with the ongoing resettlement they were now sending their sugarcane to other parts of the state.
A labourer at the Baga Road sugarcane Market, Alaji Modu, said he joined the business due to lack of job opportunities.
However, he said, “I am grateful to God for this opportunity because apart from feeding from the sugarcane job, I equally buy clothes, shoes and other stuff, but as a young man I need to have a more profitable job so as to establish my own family because I am single and I will like to marry and get children.”
For 21-year-old, Ali Adamu, sugarcane business has been a source of livelihood for young men, saying they are getting money to feed, buy clothes and other necessities.
Also speaking, 20-year-old Aliyu Usman said sugarcane had been the source of livelihood for him, explaining that he had been assisting his parents from the proceeds.