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Inside Sokoto community where garri production holds sway

Some 3kms away from Tambuwal town, headquarters of Tambuwal Local Government Area (LGA) of Sokoto State, is Alasan Village, the industrious Sokoto community involved in…

Some 3kms away from Tambuwal town, headquarters of Tambuwal Local Government Area (LGA) of Sokoto State, is Alasan Village, the industrious Sokoto community involved in garri production.  

Garri, a cassava product, is generally known to be produced in the southern part of Nigeria, but Alasan Village is making remarkable strides in its production. Telling signs of productiveness dots the community, which has over 8, 000 inhabitants. On arrival, you witness activities relating to garri production, such as constant flow of commercial vehicles in and out of the village with heavy sacks of the food product, long queues of children with sacks full of dry cassava at grinding centres and   mats spread out at designated locations to dry the processed material. At the middle of the village is a designated area where vehicles take consignments of garri to Tambuwal market, other parts of the state and country. On the outskirts are cassava plantations waiting for harvest and subsequent processing into garri.  

Almost every household in Alasan is said to be into garri business, with women outnumbering men. However, the women garri producers are not seen outside as they carry out the various processes of production within their homes. 

A bag of garri at the village goes for N12, 000.  Five years ago, Alasan was noted for its mass production of groundnut oil and kuli-kuli,a popular groundnut product in Northern Nigeria. Today, garri production has taken over the economic base of the community, with the village monopolising production in the state. 

Alhaji Tudun Malami, Sarkin Fadan Tambuwal , Hakimi Alasan  (village head of Alasan), revealed how the community got into garri production. “Our women went into garri production business five years ago after they learnt it from the Yoruba speaking community of llorin in Kwara State where they annually visit during seasonal migration. They are now happy owners of several cattle and invest heavily in farming from proceeds of garri,” said the Hakimi, adding that on a daily basis vehicles come into Alasan with people from all walks of life who troop into the village to purchase their garri. 

“You see Igbos, Yorubas and others on queues waiting for garri supply to take to other parts of Sokoto as well as Kebbi, Zamfara and other states,” he said. Presently, groundnut oil business and kuli-kuli was still going on alongside garri production and both are assisting the people to become self-reliant.  

“Alasan village has gained popularity and fame, considering our strength in groundnut oil and kuli-kuli production before gari. With adequate support, we can produce enough to feed the state and other communities, especially in this time of recession,” the Hakimi said.  

The village head however called for support from local, state and federal governments to help enhance their capacity in garri production. “Our women need machines to minimize labour, improve quality and quantity of garri produced in Alasan. We also need loans to boost cassava farming, because whenever we exhaust the ones grown here, our people have to travel outside the state to get it,” he said. 

One of the women, Malama Aisha described the process of garri production in the village. “We soak dried cassava in water for two days after which we use mortar to pound it until it transforms into the desired standard. It is then taken for grinding and subsequently put in a clay pot to be cooked,” she explained, adding that they adopt ‘dambu’ system of cooking the grinded cassava, after which they take it out of the pot, dry it and afterwards, filter it. Since they do it manually, they exert much energy.

Chairman, Garri Producers Association in Alasan, 70-year-old Hamma Alkali said they need government support for cassava farmers and garri producers to boost the venture. “With modern machinery we can produce more with less strain, and quality would be enhanced. With soft loans, we can grow more cassava and produce high quality garri,” he pointed out.  

At Tambuwal market, many sacks of garri from Alasan are brought in and out of the market. Bags of the commodity are readily sighted on display at selling points. A measure of garri goes for N200 and a sack for N13, 000 or N14,000 at the market. 

A garri seller at Tambuwal market, Yahaya Abdullahi, 45, said they get adequate supply of the product from Alasan village on daily basis and on market days. “We get three kanta loads of garri from Alasan on daily basis, comprising more than 150 bags, while on market days, about a thousand bags,” he disclosed. 

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