Gada-Biyu is a community in Wako ward of Kwali Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), located along the Abuja-Lokoja highway. The inhabitants are predominantly peasant dry season farmers.
The people, who are Hausa residents, are mostly into dry season farming of various kinds of crops, but especially maize, through irrigation.
A visit by Daily Trust to the community’s maize market on Monday showed that it was a beehive of activities as traders and customers from the eastern part of the country and parts of the FCT trooped there with pickup vans and trucks which they load with their grains purchases.
The market also witnesses an influx of women who engage in roasting corn by the roadside. They patronise the market to buy a bag or two of fresh maize for roasting and to sell in small heaps to those who boil at home for consumption.
The market is divided into sections where other crops such as potato, pepper, okra and tomato are sold in smaller quantities to customers.
A maize farmer, Alhaji Dauda Ibrahim, said he has been into dry season maize farming for over 25 years, adding that he cultivated between 15 and 18 hectares of land through irrigation system.
He said he engaged the services of over 15 farmhands to cultivate his farm, adding that he harvested over 150 bags of fresh maize twice before the rainy season sets in.
Alhaji Dauda said he has customers from the eastern part of the country who come to the market to buy maize in large quantities.
“The advantage of the dry season farming is that I harvest maize twice a year, unlike in the rainy season when one plants a crop once,” he said.
According to him, the majority of the farmers mostly depended solely on dry season farming to sustain themselves because of the perennial flood that always wreaked havoc on their farms.
Alhaji Ibrahim, who said he engaged solely in maize farming, lamented lack of government support in terms of farm inputs such as improved seedlings, fertiliser, agricultural loans, sprayers, water pump machines and agro-chemicals.
“Since I went into dry season farming, no support has come from the side of the government to me. I use my own money to buy the necessary farm inputs because I cultivate a big land,” he said.
Another maize farmer, Abdullahi Yahaya, who is also into dry season maize farming, said he cultivates 12 hectares of land for the planting of maize alone.
He said he realised about 80 tons of maize, which he sold to customers from various places outside the community, adding that he enjoyed dry season maize farming as it was profitable.
He said the major challenge facing maize farmers in the area was lack of support from government, adding that they bought farm inputs without any support.
“In fact, even the fertiliser that government gave farmers some years back are no longer coming as farmers now buy at N12,000 for Urea to N18,000 per NPK bag,” he said.
A customer, Mrs Catherine Anyawu, from Onitsha, Anambra State, said she always bought a truck-load of fresh maize which she sold to her customers that were into roasting maize.
“I come every three days to buy maize in large quantities which I transport to Onitsha to sell to roadside roast corn sellers, while some boil it, and it has been quite profitable,” she said.
Mrs Anyawu said she always bought a bag of maize at N4,500 instead of N5000 because of the distance she covered to transport the maize, adding that she has achieved a lot from selling fresh maize.
A roast corn seller, Mrs Aderonke Ajakaiye, who sells by the roadside in Gwagwalada, said she chartered a vehicle to go to Gada-Biyu daily to buy bags of maize to sell to consumers.
“And apart from roasting, I also sell boiled maize. But my daughter handles that aspect because some customers prefer the cooked variety,” she said.
Speaking with our reporter, the chairman of maize traders in the market, Alhaji Hashimu Mohammed, said the maize business has been thriving in the market for over 15 years, adding that customers, especially from the eastern part of the country, patronize it to buy maize in large quantities.
He said between five to six truckloads of maize are transported out of the market every day to Port Harcourt, Aba, Owerri, Enugu, Benin, Auchi, Lagos and Abakaliki in the southern part of the country.
“Apart from the bigger trucks, between 10 and 15 smaller vehicles like J5 buses and 18-seater buses queue to load maize to be transported to the eastern part of the country,” he said.
He said some dry season maize farmers also bring their maize from neighbouring villages of Niger State to sell at the market.