Food business in the nation’s capital, especially roasted yam and plantain or appetizer as it is referred, is undoubtedly one of the thriving and profitable businesses. Springing up at almost every corner, it has become a brisk business for sellers, constantly smiling to the bank, feeding ready customers at bubbling spots.
In the time of boom, the business and patronage were regarded as exclusive reserve for the poor and the middle class of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) residents. It was not only relegated to the inconsequential level but was only seen at very few spots with woes of poor patronage.
Today, the story has drastically changed. At every corner of the FCT, there is high proliferation of roasted yam and plantain business with patronage from both the poor and the rich.
There may be varieties of way of consuming yam but the demand and patronage for the roasted ones have placed it above other types especially with its combination with plantain fast becoming complementary.
Despite several restaurants and eateries in every corner of the FCT, there has been an upsurge in roasted yam and plantain business. The yam is garnished with fried tomato sauce, roasted fish, porage beans, pomo delicacies among other supplements.
The business has surfaced at various parts of Abuja, for economic reasons and the fact that yam has the ability to stay longer in the store. From Asokoro, Garki, Wuse to Maitama districts and suburbs close to city centres, these business inclined individuals put themselves in busy corners.
Interaction with sellers mostly women, narrated how they made enough to take care of their families and train their children through school from the proceeds of their business.
A mother of two and a roasted yam and plantain seller in Utako, Akumjeli Bridget, lamented how she has been sustaining the family when her husband suddenly decided to stop working:
“My husband just stays at home and collects all the money I make and we stay deep inside Jukwoyi. The place is not safe, neither is it conducive. The environment is not healthy and as a result the children fall sick.
“I carry my children to the shop and they help me make more sales. I don’t leave them at home alone with my husband. The area is not safe especially for children. My husband used to be a bricklayer, but there was a time he suddenly said he could no longer do it and was looking for something better.
“I, on the other hand, was doing well from my business. One time I started noticing my money was always missing. I was beating my children until I realised and asked myself why would kids be stealing as much as N5,000 from their mother’s bag?
“I later found out that my husband has been the one taking my money without asking. I didn’t confront him because the business is doing well.”
Another woman in the business, Eziamaka Anwulika, told Daily Sun how she has been shouldering the responsibilities of the family through the business:
“My daughter is preparing for WAEC and JAMB examinations. I am yet to pay N20,000 for registration fee. From next week, WAEC registration would be over. If I can’t raise the money before deadline, I will focus on NECO because registration will not close until first week of February.
“I can’t say a specific amount I make in a day, because sometimes the food finishes and sometimes it doesn’t finish. However, on a blessed day I make as much as N50,000. Some days when the business was not so great I make between N16,000 to N40,000, depending on the number of customers I meet that day.
“The business has really helped me in training my children. I have six children who all went through private schools from kindergarten to secondary education. My firstborn is preparing for WAEC examination others are still in senior and junior secondary schools.
“I reside on Keffi Road. I come to town everyday from there, Monday to Saturday. If not for this business, I wouldn›t be or have any business to do with Abuja. I buy my yam from Mararaba Market. I buy them cheap there from a bush market. I buy the yam for N600 to N700 most times, especially when I am buying in large quantity.
“The people who sell them to me are mostly female widowed farmers who have little or no territory to showcase their goods for sale. Some of them are my friends who we struggled together in Anambra State before we relocated here.”
Iganya Idegwu, recalled that she relocated from Kogi State after she married her husband who works as a security man in Abuja. She said she had to start doing something to help her family:
“I got married in 2010. My eldest child is four years old. I started the business three years ago, but it has really grown from what it used to be.
“I was selling in Lugbe and wasn’t making enough money. I realised that I had to be close to offices and decided to get a spot around Mabushi. When I started there, it took time to get customers but with time I got many.
“Workers from Vehicle Inspection Officer (VIO), Ministry of Power Works and Housing, Ministry of Environment and other offices there patronise me. The business has been supporting in many ways.”
Another woman, Ifechiluru Rose, single mother, who started the business over a year ago at Gusampe, mostly referred to as Asokoro extension, said her business at a point became worrisome, especially during the Yuletide:
“I have a daughter who is in the Federal Polytechnic, Nasarawa. She comes to help me during weekends. The father of my child was the one supporting me. He didn’t have intentions of marrying me. He married someone else and was alone. I had to start the business because he wasn’t taking care of my daughter anymore.
“Since I started it has helped me because I have gotten accommodation for my daughter and myself. It has helped me save money for my child, pay rent and buy household things. After people in Abuja travelled, I wasn’t really making much. The area I was staying, the offices went on break. I had to take a break and manage the money I had left. Things are coming back together now.”