At Shuwarin, one of the largest date markets in Jigawa State, commuters are attracted with different varieties.
Situated along the Kano-Maiduguri highway in Kiyawa Local Government Area, the market is home to hundreds of youths, who rely on the business to eke out a living.
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Kano/Jigawa Chronicle observed that most of the young date sellers stylishly arrange a variety of the commodity as samples on their tables to attract the travellers’ attention, while those with little capital hawk it inside a tray in the market and other parts of the highway.
Our correspondent who went round the market observed that some of the dates on display were brought in from abroad, with a particular variety sold at N100 per piece.
Speaking to Kano/Jigawa Chronicle, some of the vendors said they started with small capital some years back, but many of them have made between N500, 000 and N1million.
They said their major customers were travellers going to Maiduguri, Potiskum, Azare, Damaturu and other places, including neighbouring countries.
Auwalu Muhammed, who said he had spent over 10 years in the business, said it was providing a lot of his needs.
“The business provides me with a lot of things in life. I was able to build a house and live peacefully with my wife and two kids,” Muhammed said.
Salisu Isa, popularly known as Maidabino, joined the business in 2016 after Qur’anic school, with just N2,000 as his capital, but he now has over N500,000 worth of goods on his table.
“I started the date business in the 2016 with only N2,000. I was going round the market with the commodity on my head inside a tray. I used to follow buses to sell. In 2018, I decided to take risk and get my table and see whether I would make it. Then I struggled and gathered only N50,000. But thanks to the almighty God that this is what I become. I have my own tables and a capital of over N500,000; and I have built a house,” he said.
He said the business was very lucrative and provided employment opportunities to many people.
“There are more than 200 people who rely on this business. It is our only means of livelihood.
We have different varieties of dates. This big one is sold at N100 per piece; it is supplied from Mali. There is another one of N50 per piece.
“We buy dates within and outside Jigawa. We are the largest producers of the commodity. We buy from dealers in Jigawa or go to the farm directly. We buy from Kachako in Kano. We also buy from Algeria. Targal is from Algeria. We buy from Agadez in Niger Republic, as well as Mali, which has the biggest varieties,” he added.
Like any other business, date selling also has its own challenges, including the fact that some customers don’t reason with vendors when there is a price increase. They think dates should not be expensive.
Maidabino urged the government to support some of them with money to start, as many of them want to do the business but don’t have the capital.