In Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT), banana is one of the cheapest commodities one can find. They are on roadside selling points, in shops and highbrow supermarkets.
Traders say the increased production from banana plantations-from modern mechanised and medium to subsistence and barn yard producers-is glutting the market. Banana can be grown anywhere, and is in high demand. Thieves don’t commonly steal them in large quantities. Buyers buy from plantations in large amounts, then sell them off for money.
That’s why production is outstripping demand in Abuja, all year round. The result: compared to other fruits, banana comes in on the cheap, very cheap end.
Traders blame the villages surrounding Abuja. They say plantations there are pumping the produce faster than buyers can snap up. So are plantations from surrounding states-Niger, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Kogi, even Benue.
A bunch of four to seven banana fingers, as the fruit is displayed by hawkers, sells for N50 in satellite areas ringing the city centre, and everywhere else.
Agnes Ojeh deals in bananas at Jabi, a high brow district of Abuja. She has come to be more known as Madam Banana, and its evident she knows the business chain.
“There are three categories of banana traders. There are the dealers who buy a whole banana plantation, and sell to us. We are the traders who buy in medium quantities and store it to ripen before we give to hawkers who go around the city hawking the commodity in trays to make some profit.
“We don’t make much gain out of the trade, but due to the increasing number of buyers, if you add up the sales, you will realize that the profit is worth it.”
Banana points abound throughout the city: supermarkets, regular open markets, farmers fruit market, garages, even on the roadside-Mabushi in front of the Ministry of Environment, or somewhere near Julius Berger main yard. The list is endless.
Banana in large quantities greets you as you enter or exit Abuja, and at knockdown prices. And highbrow supermarkets or farmers markets, where fruits and other perishable farm producer are sold, are always stocked full with bananas. And it isn’t just for its nutritional value.
Many buyers are mostly rich folks cruising in expensive cars, according to traders. They park on the roadside and jump into a bargain match, haggling over banana prices. The irony is, in supermarkets, they pay outright without question.
According to traders, some park, turn off their cars and pester for balance as little as N50 or N20 from mostly widows or young girls hawking bananas in the middle of Abuja.
Many sellers are women trekking long distances daily to hawk bananas on the roadside, and constantly wary of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board, AEPB.
The government’s environmental enforcers against street hawking, AEPB officials are always on the prowl to arrest and prosecute subsistence hawkers. They are casual staff themselves, and they routinely seize trade stock off trays on women’s heads.
Traders are routinely pursued, forced to leave their bananas behind in flight. Officials then covert the seized stock for their personal use, the traders claim.
Another group of traders is young girls and boys assisting their parents after school hours to make ends meet, while mothers shop for foodstuff and return home to prepare lunch and dinner late at night.
One supermarket manager said, it was unexpected for buyers to enter a supermarket and haggle price. The only bargain allowed in supermarkets is for prospective buyers to window-shop now, then return later for the product.
Foodmatters.com lists the health benefits of banana: it combats depression, makes you smarter, cures hangovers, relieves morning sickness and protects against kidney cancer, diabetes, blindness.
It also protects against muscle cramps during workouts, night time leg cramp, counteracts calcium loss during urination, builds strong bones, improves your mood, regulates blood sugar.
That’s not all. Banana produces stress-relieving relaxation, reduces swelling against type II diabetes, aids weight loss, strengthens the nervous system, aids production of white blood cells, and strengthens your blood.
It is high in potassium and low in salt, lower blood pressure, protect against heart attack, stroke and aids digestion.
Want more? Bananas are just for monkey. Have one today. They are cheap in Abuja, especially if you can strike a good bargain.