This country is incredible. The more I look the more I realise why satire is the only way to get through the day if you are a Nigerian or have a hint of Nigeria blood – this is regardless of where you live.
I laughed myself tire today reading the story of a gaari packet credited to India. On the 500g pack it says “Asia’s Finest Food.” The pack has TRS, a UK registered company known for ethnic foods written on it.
This realisation that ‘other people’ are producing our popular local staple food sends Agric Minister chasing shadows. The shame here is not acknowledging that firstly, Nigeria, given our decay infrastructure is incapable of producing all that people need for survival. Secondly, is the fact that Nigeria has a long history of Indians living in the country. So will it be a crime for Indians in Nigeria to collaborate with a bigger company such as TRS to package gaari in a way to target specific consumers for example those who are willing to try gaari but are just not comfortable with the way we expose it in our local markets?
Laughable is that if the phrase on the pack says “Fancy Ijebu Gaari,”nobody would have cared at all, and the company could charge whatever they wanted without any uproar.
I fully support “Buy Nigeria to grow naira’ mantra but should we continue to waste limited resources on meaningless chase? Going after anything that sounds foreign is just silly.
To see how our elected officials prioritise their work, this gaari causing officials headaches is ₦450 for 500g. In Ibadan, one of our biggest cities a 1kg gaari is ₦350 – this is for a nice one in local market, one can even get as cheap as ₦260 (if quality is of little concern).
One can easily see here who the target consumers of this packed gaari are – Nigeria clearly has enough people who prefer their foods to be presented certain way. I seriously would have thought this is an example to be emulated rather than thinking they are our “another enemy.”
So why stop at gaari? One step further will be to go after palm oil coming from neighbouring countries, after all, palm oil production used to be our thing, Nigeria used to lead in the production of palm oil.
Since I am a good Nigeria girl – I will give the Chief a couple more tasks to worry about.
I learnt a while ago that one of our very famous brands do not buy their palm oil from Nigeria – they use quite a lot from making soap, biscuits to noodles. They source it from Malaysia/Indonesia directly. Why can’t they invest in Nigeria palm oil business one may ask? Because Nigeria officials make it unbearable to source products locally (bribery every step of the way) that it makes economic sense for them to import.
Now that is a real task that will take Agric Minister the whole of his tenure.
Another one: I once bought a can of Banga Soup with “Nigeria taste” on it. I grew up eating banga soup, we call it Ọbẹ̀ ègboyìn in my area – delicious and eliminate the need for tomato/bell peppers. So when I saw it at a shop, I was excited and bought a couple from different brands for comparison.
Out of curiosity I checked where this “Nigeria taste” product was made from thinking perhaps it is will be more specific, but no, it is a product of Ghana. Good for whoever is behind the product, I don’t doubt it to be a product of Nigeria.
I had a similar experience with our red beans ‘honey beans’ which has a distinctive taste. The packet says “Nigeria Honey Beans” when I checked at the back it says the product of “Republic of Benin.” Again, I wish those guys all the very best of luck.
Instead of the Chief running after a well presented gaari that we all know is meant for a small segment of people, why not encourage entrepreneur to emulate and learn from these guys?
Almost every other month another Nigeria food product is added to the EU ban list of foods on imports suspension for not meeting international standards. This used to be a big deal but not anymore as one can even get gaari and ethnic beans from Sainsbury’s now.
Should the chief not be more concerned about the EU imports ban as opposed to the rich people gaari pack?
Why would anyone not want to associate their products with a country/company with a sustained records trusted by international standards?
*banga soup and ewa oloyin are from a London shop.