These youths have taken to a passion of selling vegetables. Mostly from Kano State, they have dominated the business of vegetable salad in Katsina state. With huge turnover, most of them speak to Daily Trust Saturday on why they won’t trade this business for a white-collar job.
Any regular visitor to Katsina metropolis will notice the presence of some young men along major streets selling lettuce and cabbage on wheelbarrows.
The wheelbarrow, Daily Trust observed, contains two transparent plastic buckets; one for the sliced lettuce and the other for cabbage.
- Kidnappings, killings put Nasarawa on edge
- Maggot therapy: We’ve saved 30 patients from amputation – AKTH entomologist
Besides, the two plastic buckets are ingredients for making the salad which includes tomatoes, pepper, potato, onion, salad cream, eggs, spices, vegetable oil, stock cube seasoning and salt.
The salad hawkers who are mostly teenagers, could be spotted in public places such as Juma’at mosques, markets, auto mechanic garages, motor parks and other public places.
Our correspondent gathered that the price of a plate of salad depends on the buyers’ choice of vegetables.
The price ranges from N30 to N300 depending on the quantity of vegetables and variety of ingredients a buyer wants.
This is because while some buyers want all ingredients including egg, others prefer only tomato, onion, salt and oil.
Daily Trust also observed that although this particular trade is flourishing in Katsina, is however, dominated by Kano youths, who are mostly from Wudil and Gaya local governments areas.
An average of 250 youth from villages and towns in the two local governments area relocate to Katsina State for the purpose of this business.
Also, another set of between 200 and 300 youth from the two local governments visit Borno, Kaduna, Bauchi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Gombe, Yobe for a similar business.
One of hawkers, Ibrahim Kamilu, said he’s been in the business for about seven years, during which he was able to acquire some properties including farms, motorcycle and livestock, among others.
“I don’t put in more than N3,500 to N4,000 daily and from that I realize between N1,000 and N2,000 gain, depending on the day’s sales,” he said.
Kamilu, who looks neat, said one of the factors that attract customers to him was the way he handles his commodity in a hygienic way.
“You know, this is food that one consumes directly after purchase, so there is the need for us to ensure that it is well treated in order not to cause any harm to the consumers, especially the lettuce which needs to be properly washed with a little salt taking into consideration how it is cultivated,” he said.
Kamilu added that while he purchases most of his raw vegetables from the Katsina central market, the cooked sweet potatoes are supplied to them by some girls who boil them at home.
He said majority of those in the business are from Kano State, particularly Kademi village, adding that a lot of them have gone to many states such as Borno, Kaduna, Katsina, Bauchi, Sokoto, Zamfara and as far as the southern parts of the country.
He said it was a business that all young men in his community were born into as that was what they grew up to see their elders doing.
Jamilu Tasi’u, another vegetable hawker, spotted by our correspondent along IBB Way, told Daily Trust that he came to Katsina all the way from Kademi village in Wudil Local Government Area to sell vegetables.
“Although some people look down on our trade, we however handle the business with passion and pride. We see this business as a source of livelihood and, therefore, hold it tightly. We don’t joke with this business at all, because it means everything to us.
“Apart from Katsina, wherever you meet vegetable hawkers in other states, they will tell you they’re either from Kademi or other villages around Wudil or Gaya local government. We have dominated the business for the past 20 years.
“Our people do sell salad in places like Zaria, Kaduna, Bauchi and Gombe, Borno, Yobe, and Sokoto. I joined the business 4 years ago here in Katsina.
“I was introduced to the business by a friend who has been in it for several years before me. He invited me to Katsina and taught me how to do the business.
“I started the business with only 3,000, but now I have a capital of over N40,000. I earn between 2,500 and N3,000 daily when the market is good and N1,00 or even N500 when things are hard,” said Tasi’u.
Kamal Rayyanu Mahmud is also from Unguwar Gyada village in Gaya Local Government Area of Kano State. He said he learnt the business from his elder brother about three years ago.
“My brother learnt it in Kano and then moved to Katsina. After some time, he asked me to come and meet him so that I will learn how to do it and I have been here since 2018,” he said.
Mahmud said he spends an average of N6,000 daily to purchase raw materials and makes sales of N8,000 also on average, thereby realizing about N2,000 profit daily.
He said as a young man of about 20, who is yet to get married, he uses his savings to support his parents at home and also attend to his personal needs.
“I am also saving, mostly through the purchase of livestock, so that when I have enough capital, I will change the business to one that I will be stationed in one place, because one of the major challenges of this business is the mobile nature of moving around all day, which leaves one exhausted at the end of the day,” he said.
For Abdulsalam M. Dauda, the business means everything to him. Dauda, who also came from Kademi village, said he ventured into the business with a capital of N5,000 only.
“I am in my fifth year in the business. I learnt from my elder brother, who used to come to Katsina and spend some months doing the business. Like my brother, after spending about eight months here, I go back to the village and stay with my family for some weeks or months before I come back.
“I am really enjoying the business because I have gotten so many things courtesy of this little business. It is little in nature because it requires small amount of money to start with, but in terms of benefits, I can say I am proud of this business because I have bought a land and a motorcycle from the business.”+
Malam Salisu Adamu Gombe, the eldest among the hawkers, said he has been in the business for three years. He started with N3,500 as capital but now his capital has risen to over N50,000.
He said: “Though I am an indigene of Gombe, but I learnt the business here in Katsina from a Kano youth who taught me the trade from the grassroots. I am really enjoying it. To be honest, I do not think I will quit this business because of a monthly paid job.
“At my level, I will not get a government job that will fetch me what I am getting from this trade. So, it is better for me to improve on this business than to waste my time looking for a government job that will not earn me more money,” he said.
Yusuf Muhammad, a trader at the Katsina central market, told Daily Trust Saturday that “I am a constant buyer of salad from these hawkers. I patronize them because of the nature of my business; I spent more time here in the market than at home and I like vegetables a lot, so whenever I see them, I buy from them.
“I hear doctors on various radio programmes encouraging people to eat more vegetable. So, I always buy from the hawkers since I usually take my lunch here in the market.”