Wednesday 9 May 2012

Hunting and gathering

Locally sourcing vegetables is the main issue at the moment for me. The open market, Wuse market, is a trek by foot or taxiride  away and very busy and noisy. The alternative is crossing town by taxi to the much quieter and much more pleasant farmers market in Maitama but that eats up a whole days travel allowance. One Saturday a man with a wheelbarrow came round selling veg, but he has not been seen again. Rumour has it there is supposed to be a veg stall  a few blocks away, but I’ve never seen it yet.

Fruits are Ok to find. 2 young Hausa boys, Adam and his friend whose name I have not established, pitch their stall each day just around the corner at the end of our road. For now they are selling watermelon, apples , slices of pineapple, and oranges, and last week bananas. The oranges here are very stringy and not that nice, the apples are imported so Ok but more expensive, the bananas when they are available are lovely.They  have been selling mangoes but these appear to be coming to the end of their season here and the quality is going down. Generally fruit prices are as follows: large apples 150N each, small apples 70N each, bananas 60N each, large mangoes 120-150N each. Outside of Abuja you can get about 8-10 small mangoes for 200N – so that shows you the markup in town!

The farmers market is much nicer. I’ve only been once so far. I went with a VSO staff colleague. In addition to the same range of fruits, there was a good selection of vegetables. None of the small market sellers has weighing scales. Some do in Wuse market, but elsewhere no. It is down to asking how much is that pile? nawà nawà nē kashìn albasa? how much is that pile of onions?  This lack of scales surprises me, I recall my Shakti colleagues telling me that they encouraged and motivated the women traders to invest in hand held scales to have greater control over how much they got for their goods.

So back to pricing vegetables…a small pile of green beans 150N, a  lettuce 100N, 3 sizeable pieces of ginger root 50N ( best buy of the day - ginger infusions rock!), 6 large onions 200N. a pile of tomatoes 200N, a 5in chunky cucumber 100N.  Other veg on sale but which I haven’t bought yet includes carrots, beetroot. Yam of course is always available, but I can’t stomach it :(  I’d love to find something like a sweet potato but haven’t yet found one.  A small bag of groundnuts, about a couple of handfuls 50N.

Although my sabzi walla in Rayagada had a really limited choice she did come regularly, indeed she was around every day for many of my neighbours. Here I have not been able to establish a pattern with the street sellers who walk with buckets of good on their heads. I’ve seen yam sellers, dried fish sellers, but no one regular and predictable. Perhaps they come through the working day?

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