It’s the time of the year for the harvest of a pepper variety popularly known among farmers and consumers in Sokoto as shambo pepper.
Although the pepper is noted to be popular among farmers in Fadama areas of Sokoto because of its viable economic potentials, the pepper variety is consumed more in South-western Nigeria.
“Our people take the pepper to the South where the market is more favourable,” stated a dealer, Hussaini Abdullahi, 38, of Dundaye Bakin Gulbi who has spent 10 years in the business.
Farmers in Goronyo, Rabah and Wurno local government areas of Sokoto State are noted to be the major producers of this pepper variety.
‘shambo’ is longer than the popular ‘atarodo’ and it has a unique aroma and taste. Consumers use it to spice stews and soups, indigenous foods such as ‘akara’, ‘moi-moi’ as well as the popular ‘fura da nono’ and ‘awara’.
At the Ramin Kura vegetable depot in the Sokoto State capital, a ‘shambo’ pepper dealer, 60-year-old Altine Faru told Daily Trust that they get supply of the pepper from the farming communities in the state twice in a week, Monday and Friday.
On each of these two days, they bring in 320 to 480 sacks, totaling over 600 to almost 1,000 sacks on weekly basis.
He, however, said the variety that used to cost N2,000 per sack, now goes for N1,200 per sack due to glut as a result of the economic downturn.
“It used to sell at N2,000 when consumers had more money and the highest price for a sack is N3,000 when the rainy season approaches and the supply dwindles. Now it is harvest season as you can see a lot of it packed and waiting for buyers,” he said.
However, half of the weekly supply is transported from the market to the southern part of the country at the rate of N2,500 per sack.
Altine said the major challenge they face is lack of adequate funds to run the business whose success, he said, depends on capital.
“Most of us don’t have enough money to buy a trailer load of ‘shambo’ pepper to sell to larger consumers in the southern part of the country,” he lamented.
Another dealer, Hussaini Abdullahi, revealed that this year, some farmers faced the problem of pests which destroyed their crops.
“There is lower production of the pepper this year. With a good harvest, you hardly find a place to stand here, it would have been full of ‘shambo’ pepper sacks waiting for transportation to southern Nigeria,” he said.
Hussaini decried that the prevailing economic situation had slowed down their business, hence the glut in the market which would affect farmers.
Another farmer, 55-year-old Bello Abdurra’uf of Lahodu village in Wurno Local Government Area who is also into ‘shambo’ pepper farming, said they plant the seed alongside millet when early rainfall is recorded.
“The seeds require a lot of watering, fertilizer and application of pesticide at required intervals to prevent insects from hampering its growth,” he said.
Abdurra’uf added: “When properly nurtured, it can be harvested six to seven times, unlike onions which we harvest only once.”
In this harvest season, Abdurra’uf declared that he expects to realize N40,000 from his N5,000 investments in its farming.
Similarly, Garba Buhari, 57, noted that the pepper is more economically viable than onion and tomato put together.
“It can bear more than six harvests which guarantees reasonable income for a farmer,” he stated.
He appealed to the state government to provide farmers with soft loans, adequate fertilizer and subsidized pesticides to produce enough to enhance the economic growth of the state.
Aminu Muhammad, 30, has also been into the production of the pepper for over 10 years now. He said good and well-raised farm that can undergo 10 rounds of harvest on weekly basis.
“I invested N15,000 in the production of five beds of Shambo Pepper and I am expecting a profit of N50,000,” he revealed.
The farmer urged the state government to come up with a programme for the variety’s production similar to the newly introduced wheat programme.