The Mariri International Kolanut market is currently struggling to keep afloat as most businessmen have closed shop while majority are now managing meagre capitals that hardly sustain the market.
The market was relocated to Mariri from Kofar Nassarawa in 1977, for the purpose of expanding it to accommodate more traders.
Although the climatic condition of the region is not favourable for the cultivation of kolanut, the north, Kano in particular, is widely known for its distribution, not just within the country, but to other African countries, including Chad and Niger.
The kolanut market at Mariri, Kano, is famous as the only entry point, from where the product gets to end users.
Goro, as it is often called in Hausa dialect, plays a significant role in many cultures, including Hausa; thus, it is very uncommon to witness any Hausa ceremony without lobes of kolanut.
Daily Trust on Sunday learnt that at least five truck-loads of the product from Shagamu in Ogun State offload at Mariri International Kolanut Market on a daily basis in the past thereby creating an opportunity for the teaming unemployed youth to earn a living. But now, it’s hard to see a truck daily.
On a visit to the market by our correspondent, young men and adults were seen struggling to eke out a living. While some are fulltime dealers on the product, others earn their living by loading and offloading the product.
It was gathered that about 3,000 unemployed youths from Kano and neighbouring states, including Jigawa, Katsina and Kaduna sourced their daily bread through menial jobs in the market, the story is absolutely different today as the market looks scanty and less busy.
According to the chairman, Mariri Kolanut Association, Sabiu Alhaji Bala Tsakuwa, while the business is dwindling and struggling to survive various challenges, the economic situation in the country is greatly contributing to its decline as most businessmen have resorted to either closing shops or managing very little to stay afloat.
“All the northern states come to buy kolanut from here, even Niger Republic. It is an international market that is second to none in the whole world. Here, you find all kinds of kolanuts.
“Our challenges are basically first from transportation. When our vehicles have issues on the way, we face serious challenges before we solve the problem. The goods get bad and damaged at times in the process of off-loading and loading onto another vehicle. And possibly that is done by people that are not experienced in doing that so, they end up spoiling it.”
He added that he has forwarded a complaint to the government and authorities concerned so as to have ease of movement.
“I have asked the commissioner of commerce to help us with transport whenever the government is doing an intervention to help us with a vehicle so that we can easily rescue our goods.
“Secondly is the case of capital. Majority of our businessmen are in dire need of capital because they have gone into recession and are not doing well. Some were as a result of the fire outbreak; some their capital dwindled, etc.
“I also extended this to the commissioner so that we can salvage the business and bring it to its exalted position. When water touches it, it gets spoilt. Excess heat and excess cold damages it. It is perserved in a very conducive and normal temperature.”
The chairman called on the government to extend its empowerment programmes to help the traders boost their businesses.
He lamented that the ongoing economic recession in the country has affected many traders in the market; hence they were in dire need of government’s intervention.
Also speaking, Usaini Tsamiya Mai-Goro said, “I have spent over 40 years in this business. All we can do, is give thanks to God. This business has done everything for me, and I have done everything through this business. I sell three types, however, the business is no longer thriving honestly.”
Also, Dayyabu Abdulhamidu, who’s spent at least 43 years in the business, laments that the business which had done so much for him in life, over the years, is seriously declining by the day.
Ibrahim Hamza Adam explained that while the market is seasonal, demand and credit is killing the business on a daily basis.
“It has its season. There are times when it is scarce and there are times that it is available. I started since I was a primary school pupil. We have different types of Kolanut from Ghana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire and the one we grow here in Yoruba land.
“The market is transacted normally on credit because there is no money in people’s hand and the nature of the market has changed drastically, honestly.”