Corn and its tantalising appeals
By Maria Famakinwa
Many petty traders across the country see the rainy season as an opportunity to do brisk business and make easy profit because it is synonymous with the season of corn.
Corn, also known as maize is one of the most popular food crops in Nigeria and Africa at large. Rich in fibre, maize is so important that a lot of daily diets would not be possible without it. Animal products like egg, meat and milk productions depend on maize due to its usefulness in feeding animals. It is also used industrially for ethanol, starch and oil extraction. Corn is used in most homes in preparing for varieties of foods such as pap, ‘tuwo’ which is common in the northern part of the country, beans cake and corn solid food like pounded yam, corn porridge among the Yorubas, bean-cake, moi-moi among others. Corn also served as a good sources of carbohydrates, protein, iron, Vitamin B and C.
The many uses of corn have promoted some interest in corn as an investable business. A look at Akure, the Ondo State capital prove further that aside the economic and nutritional value derive from corn, it serves as a means of livelihood for many families especially petty traders who have most times abandon their businesses to selling corn as they revealed to The Hope that corn business is commercially lucrative.
In the submission of a corn seller, a middle age woman who gave her name as Iya Dada, revealed that she has been in the business for the past 18 years and that she could not wish for anything better. “I have been in the business of selling corn for the past 18 years and I thank God for the initiative to start when I did. Though, when it is not season for corn, I roast plantains or yam but I cannot compare it to corn business because I make huge profits from it.”
On how much she made per week, she said that it varies depending on the weather which according to her determines the market.”If I notice that the weather is becoming cloudy and it might rain, I will start cooking corn instead of roasting because cooked corns are in high demand when it is raining. Customers will be eager to buy at any price in as much as the corn is soft and hot. That is why I have my coolers here to take care of that. I make between N6,000 to N7,000 per week when it is raining, but when the weather is normal and there is good market, I make between N4000 to N5000 per week.”
For Mrs Mope Okanlawon, another corn seller said that venturing into the business is a good thing that could happen to anyone as she boasted that the money she made from the business is more than what some civil servants take home as their monthly salaries.
“Though, many look down on the business, but it is a simple and profitable one that requires little capital to start. If you buy a bag of corn for N5000, you can make N15,000 or more from it depending on your location.”
On why she ventured into the business, she said, “I was selling kerosene in my neighbuorhood before but ran into debt because many bought on credit and refused to pay. Efforts to collect my money mostimes led to quarrels and I became tired. I explained my situation to my sister in Lagos State and she advised me to go into corn business that she is also doing the same in Lagos to support her family. Initially I was reluctant but when I had no choice, I looked for a space far from my house and I started three months ago. I wish I had started earlier because my family can now feed well, I had paid the electricity bill I was owing and my house electricity that was disconnected months ago have been re-connected. I shall remain grateful to my sister who the Lord used to introduce this business to me. “
On how to start the business disclosed that one can start with as little as N5000.”Since it does not require renting of shop, just get a space in a busy and open area, get a high portable grill to roast the corn and a regular supply of charcoal for the fire not to go off, that is for roasting, but cooking of corn will require big pot with a tripod stand, charcoal and clean water”.
In the submission of mummy Favour, who sells both roasted and cooked corn, she declared that corn business is an easy way to solve one financial problems . “I have never regretted coming into the business since I started five years ago. Though, like other businesses, it also have its own challenges yet, the compensation lies in the profit.”
On what she was doing before venturing into corn business, she said that she was doing nothing as her family all depend on the little the husband was bringing home to cater for the family needs. “But since I started the business five years ago, I am always looking forward to rainy season so that I can start the business. You can see that a lot of women, ladies and young men are into the business because it is lucrative.”
On why she combined the sales of roasted and cooked corn she said that it will give customers the opportunity to make their choices.
On how much one cost, said that she sells according to sizes. “The bigger the corn, the higher the price. I have big ones for N150, N100, depending on the customer’s bargaining power while the small size goes for N50.”
On the business challenges, the women said that though selling corn brings quick and huge returns but the business is not for lazy people. “You must wake up very early like 5.30am to go to the farm so that you can get cheap and fresh corn. Aside this, since we do not always rent shop for the business, sitting beside the fire under the sun affect our health. Most times, I run temperature due to the effect of the sun and the heat as a result of continuous fanning of the charcoal for the light not to go off. “
A man who gave his name as Yomi was sighted eating roasted corn he bought from mummy Favour, when asked why he opted for corn when there was a local restaurant beside him said, “I prefer to buy corn because it is cheaper and can hold my stomach till I get home in the evening. I am an ‘Okada’ rider, and cannot afford to spend wastefully. Going to the local restaurant to eat will cost me N500 yet, I will not be satisfied but with N150 corn and N20 sachet water, I will be alright till I get home when I will be able to eat to my satisfaction. That is how I plan my day.”
Reacting to why maize is appealing to everybody said that most people like it because it can be used for varieties of food like palp, semovita, bean -cake, porridge when mix with beans. “Corn is mostly available at any time you want it. For instance, I can buy it while in a cab and start eating but I cannot eat rice or pounded yam inside commercial vehicle. You can now see that corn has many benefits that attracts people to it. I was also told that they use corn in making yoghurt and medicine that we use. So, directly or indirectly, everyone eat corn.”
Also, a civil servant, Mrs Janet Idowu who was seen buying fresh corn at Oja-Oba market was asked why is maize appealing to everybody said, “People see maize season as a season that provides alternative meal for every family. Aside the fact that one can use it for varieties of food, season of maize force the prices of other food items to come down. This is because consumers are open to other choices. Just like me, instead of buying a tuber of yam for N600, I rather opted for N100 maize and half rubber of beans which goes for N200 to prepare corn and beans porridge for the family who see it as a special delicacy because you can only prepare such during corn season.
“Aside this, many people like corn because it is available during its season, nobody can hoard it, you can see it at any corner, bus stop or garage, it is affordable, assuage hunger and keep the month busy. You can get corn either roasted or cooked for as cheap as N50 and eating it gives natural sweet taste that is irrestitable aside the health benefits. There is no how you pass in the front of a corn seller especially roasted ones that one will not be tempted to buy because of the sweet aroma. Corn is everyone delicacy because no tribe forbids it.. This makes corn appeals to all.”