In Rivers State, especially Port Harcourt, tigernuts is big business. According to residents, as a result of high demand, it has improved the economic status of many families. Daily Trust on Sunday reports.
Tigernuts, also known as aya in Hausa language, is a nutritious fruit from the northern part of Nigeria. It is brought to Rivers State from Sokoto, Kano, Plateau and Taraba. It has become a household name for residents of Port Harcourt, especially Oyigbo, Ahoada, Omoku, Bonny, Eleme, Onne, Etche, Igwurita and other parts of Rivers State.
As a result of the high demand for the fruit, hundreds of youths, especially those from the North, as well as women from Rivers State, exploit the opportunity to do brisk business.
On a daily basis, hundreds of youths and women move around Port Harcourt and its environs with wheelbarrows loaded with tigernuts for sale.
There are three categories of people who deal on tigernuts. The first category is made up of major dealers who bring it from the North. The second category is made up of youths who hawk the fruit, while the third are those who process it into smoothies. Those that fall into the last category are women.
There are others who do big business with the fruit. They sell in customised bottles in a cozy environment. In such places, a 35cl of tigernuts costs as much as N1,500. But the women who hawk in the streets sell the same size of the end product as low as N100.
Our findings revealed that tigernut business has boosted the economic base of many families in Rivers State, putting smiles on their faces.
Adamu Abdullahi, who hawks tigernuts in Port Harcourt, told Daily Trust on Sunday that the business had made him financially independent.
“Since I started the business of tigernuts, I have come to realise that one can be financially independent. I am not a burden to anybody. What I needed was to get a wheelbarrow, which I use to push the fruit around. Tigernut is in high demand in Port Harcourt because of its rich nutritional value. Port Harcourt residents like it a lot. I make close to N7,000 on a daily basis,’’ he said.
Another tigernuts seller, Yusuf Abubarkar, said he made between N10,000 and N20,000 from selling tigernuts in Port Harcourt.
He said, “Tigernut has a very huge market in Port Harcourt and its environs. Residents of Rivers State have come to realise the nutritional value of the fruit; that is why it is in high demand. There is no day we don’t sell, unless I don’t come out to hawk. We measure it in cups, and they have different prices, ranging from N50 to N200, depending on what the buyers want. We make huge profit from those who buy in bulk. Women that process the seeds into smoothies are our biggest customers because they buy in large quantities and sell in bottles. We also supply to big confectionery companies. These people buy in large quantities and make huge profit after processing it into bottles. On a very good day, I make as much as N20,000.’’
Mrs Pricillia Molokwu, who sells bottled tigernuts in Port Harcourt, also said, “Since I started the business, I have been a very big helping hand to my family. Before now, my husband shouldered every responsibility in the family and it was a huge burden to him, but since I ventured into the business of tigernuts I have been of great help.
“To prepare tigernut smoothie is very simple. Get enough of the tigernuts, a good number of dates and few gingers and add them together. The dates sweeten the nuts while the ginger adds flavour to it. Add enough water and crush all of it together. After sometime, use a clean filter to remove the chaff. Put it into bottles and chill it with ice block and the smoothie is ready for the market,’’ she said.
She advised women who do not have viable sources of livelihood to go into tigernut business because it is profitable. Molokwu said she made as much as N5,000 on a daily basis.
Speaking on the health benefits of tigernuts, medical experts told our correspondent in Port Harcourt that it is rich in multivitamins.
Dr Mike Ajoku said that vitamins and minerals found in the fruit enhance strong bones and teeth and play a role in the formation of ATP, an energy compound for activating glucose, fat and acid.
Also, a Port Harcourt-based nutritionist, Mrs Patience Amadi, said that tigernut is very rich in vitamin E, which plays a role in the formation and functioning of red blood cells, muscles and other tissues.
According to a scientific research, tigernut is rich in minerals such as potassium, calcium and vitamins E and C.
An online blog, tigernuts.com, also records that, “Potassium is the most important neural element in intracellular behaviour. It plays a part in numerous enzymatic reactions and important physiological processes, such as cardiac rhythm, nervous conduction, muscle contraction. Vitamin E plays a role in the formation and function of the red blood cells, muscles and other tissues. It is thought to have a preventive effect against cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Vitamin C is an antioxidant. It encourages the absorption of iron and helps to maintain the level of vitamin E. It is indispensable for the inmunological system and for preserving the tissues.
“Tigernuts are very healthy, they help to prevent heart attacks, thrombosis and activate blood circulation. Due to the high contents of soluble glucose, they prevent cancer, and lately, some investigators discovered that they reduce the risk of suffering colon cancer. The very high fibre content, combined with a delicious taste, makes them ideal for healthy eating.’’