How To Reap Sweet Income From Sweet Potato Business

How To Reap Sweet Income From Sweet Potato Business

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Sweet potato offers huge prospect for scaling up incomes of smallholder farmers amid various challenges facing the farmers in the producing belt. Daily Trust spoke…

 

Sweet potato

Sweet potato offers huge prospect for scaling up incomes of smallholder farmers amid various challenges facing the farmers in the producing belt.

Daily Trust spoke with a number of farmers, who admitted that sweet potatoes contribute significantly to their financial well- being.

For many consumers, it is an affordable source of food and vitamins for many households across the country compared to the more expensive Irish potato.

In Zamfara, Nasarawa , Abuja and the Zaria axis of Kaduna State, sweet potato is becoming widely cultivated because of the emerging markets in Port Harcourt, Lagos and other parts of country.

 

In Plateau State, although Irish potato is most widely cultivated, many farmers are taking advantage of the market to diversify production into sweet potato.

Over the years, Zamfara State has been a major producer of sweet potato from where it is being supplied to various states of the federation.

However, the growing insecurity in the state is scaring many buyers from the state while farmers are struggling to meet the consumers’ apatite.

The production, according to the farmers, is in two phases, wet and dry seasons, which makes the produce to be available all year round.

One of the farmers from Talatar Mafara LGA, Bilyaminu Mukhtar, said sweet potato has been a source of livelihood for many farmers in the state.

“Some of us have access to water bodies like that of Bakalori produce potato in both wet and dry seasons. That is why we are capable of producing the crop all year round.

“Before the prevalence of banditry in the state, buyers from every part of the country met farmers in their farms to purchase the produce,” said Bilyaminu Mukhtar.

He added that some of the buyers now prefer to transact with the farmers through the banks or buying agents in the state and the goods were sent to their respective destinations.

“Banditry, though has significantly in Zamfara, it is still threatening the business of sweet potato. Buyers from outside the state contact dealers and agents in the villages to source the produce for them and later pay through the bank accounts of the farmers or the agents,” he added.

Another farmer from Shinkafi area, Ibrahim Wakala, said they cannot do without potato as they plant it alongside maize and millet.

“Farmers here in Shinkafi and Tsafe area have no irrigation facilities, therefore, they resort to mix – cropping of potato with millet or maize. Before the two cereals mature, we plant potato in between them which takes over the farm immediately after the harvest of the millet or maize,” Wakala said.

The booming sweet potato business

Daily Trust spoke with Hayatu Hussaini, a potato dealer at Lambar Bakura in Zamfara State. He said the main points of potato sale in the state are Mafara, Lambar Bakura, Bakalori, Jangero and Galadi.

“From those points, about ten trailers loaded with potato take off weekly to port Harcourt, Lagos, Ibadan and Abuja, especially during harvest periods around September and January for wet and dry seasons respectively.”

He also said during those periods of harvest, a 100kg bag of the produce sells between N1,500 to N2,000, but in April when the produce is scarce, it sold at not less than N4,000.

A farmer in Nasarawa State, one of the growing states, Mr Tailer Ayuba, who cultivates the crop every year in Doma, said he has found potato to be a very cheap crop to cultivate with little or no fertilizer application, adding that it has improved his income, especially during the early days of harvest.

“Sweet potato is one of the first crops I cultivate every year. It is the first thing I harvest. At harvest, a bag sells between N4,800 and N5,500 in Doma and Lafia,” he said.

Mr. Baruwa Madu trades in the product, buying from farmers in Doma, Lafia and Obi axis and takes it to Port Harcourt and Lagos. He said the crop does better in those markets.

Others said even at the Maraba Market, potato has good value as many of the sellers who cannot access the Lagos, Port Harcourt and other markets take theirs to the Maraba and other markets around Abuja.

In Abuja, a 100 kg bag of sweet potato costs between  N6,000 and N7,000.

One of the sellers of the produce in Bwari, said they take delivery from as far as Zamfara State as well as Nasarawa and Zaria in Kaduna State.

He said the produce price is fluctuating at the moment because of the present situation of the country.

A buyer, Mrs Nkechi Fred, said apart from its nutritional value, she likes sweet potato because it is relatively cheap.

‘’Look at it, this big bag is sold for less than N6,000, you can’t near Irish portato with that amount.

In Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, a 100kg bag of tomato is sold for N8,000.

A seller in the state told our correspondent that they buy the produce from Plateau and Zamfara states at between N5,500 and N6,000.

At Old Dakata market in Kano State, a 100kg bag of sweet potato is sold at N8,000 at present.

Our correspondent in the state, however, said the same bag wass sold at N4,000 before the present situation in the country.

In Lagos State, a 100kg bag now sells for N11,000

A seller on Red Street, Jakande Estate in Isolo, Lagos, Faruq Musa, said they bought the produce from Zaria in Kaduna State at between N5,500 and N6,000 but that the cost of transporting it is huge.

Chief Dan Okafor is the National President of Potato Farmers Association of Nigeria. He said the crop has recently gained more attention because of a range of value chains which include chips confectioneries, and others.

According to him, the release of new varieties like the orange-fleshed sweet potato which is rich in beta carotene, a precursor to vitamin A is a game changer to the production of potatoes.

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