Lilly bulbs or Bado, as it is commonly known among the locals across Sokoto state, has continued to grow in popularity as a nosh despite the fact that it has been in use for a long time now
It is still a darling of both the young and old. While the younger generation, especially children, love it as a snack for the older people Bado can serve as a whole meal.
It is also used to make soup while others believe in its therapeutic value which they say include cleansing the stomach and boosting libido
There are two popular varieties of Bado. One is the Bahaushe (Hausa variety) which is rough- looking and Bafillace (Fulani variety) which is smooth. They also have different taste.
Mostly found in fadama, Bado plant has also remained economically very significant to many people both old and young as they still find it as a viable business.
However engaging in the trade requires courage and tenacity as someone has to brave the cold weather and other inconveniences found inside ponds and streams.
Bado pluckers dare even the frosty harmattan season, when it is very much available, to pluck the plant bulbs in ponds. The flowers, from which the Bado bulbs originate, float on the muddy waters and have whitish or reddish colours while the bulb grows underneath the water.
Driven by high demand for Bado, the pluckers set out very early morning to
Fadama areas where they go into cold muddy waters to pluck them for sale.
Because of its popularity, some youths make good of the harmattan season
by plucking bado to meet their financial needs.
“It has been over 35 years since I started plucking Bado, and still doing it for a living,” 58-year-old Aminu Kurma said.
Kurma, who is married with four children added: “Bado gives me a lot. I got married from the business and take caré of my family comfortably from its sale.”
Bado consumers are conversant with Aminu Kurma’s business point at the popular old market in Sokoto. He is one of the most popular bado sellers, and is synonymous with the business.
“As a teenager, I used to go to Zalzalu bridge along Sokoto- Kware road to get the plant. I weathered extreme harmattan to go into water at early hours to pluck Bado and even when we used to sell at lower price of half or one penny before the change of Nigeria’s currency, we still gained something.”
Bado plucking requires determination and the will to overcome challenges, he said. ‘’We encounter challenges of catching cold, fear of being drowned in the river and the leech which clings to our skin. Sometimes we develop rashes on our entire body but we are used to such challenges.”
Today, Aminu Kurma goes to the Fadama ponds, pay farmers about N200 to enable him access the ponds. He gathers about two sacks of Bado which he sells at between N2,000 to N3,000 depending on the variety.
“Every day, we go to source for more as the market is good with consumers as well as retailers jostling to buy from us.”
Mallama Aisha, who engages in the business, told Caliphate Trust that she was into it because of its popularity among school children.
Aisha, who was at the Bado depot at old market was caught sampling the best from the large basin.
“Every year during harmattan, I trade in Bado because of its popularity. If I purchase N300 worth, it fetches me between N500 and N550, and I continue to buy until the season is over,” she explained.
Another Bado retailer, Abubakar Umar 21 said he buys from the pluckers at
N1,600 a sack and sell at between N2,000 to N2,300.
“I can sell two sacks daily and still have people coming for more,’’ he said.
He described Bado as one of the hottest commodity among women and children.
“They troop to this place every evening to buy, especially elderly women, who sell to school children.’’
Umar said no snack could compete with Bado when it comes to patronage among consumers.
A veteran dealer, 56-year-old Alhaji Arzika Fali, recalled that Bado plucking was just a past- time among primary school age children in the past.
“We were just doing it because it was free, wild plant which no one charged you anything before you pluck. Then, I go with other children to the nearest fadama area along Kware- Sokoto road to pluck Bado which we sold. Now Bado pluckers have to pay farmers in whose fadama land the plant is obtained.
“We wake up as early as 7am and remain in water plucking Bado until it is 12.30 pm by then our sacks are filled, then we carry them on our heads to market. Sometimes, we empty the filled sacks by the pond and get back into the pond for another round.”
He said the fruit multiplies rapidly because “as you pluck one, another bulb grows in its place which enable us to pluck as much as we can before the harmattan season ends.’’
Alhaji Fali said Bado business was now more rewarding as well as challenging.
” Pluckers now travel out of Sokoto to get Bado when it is scarce in the town. Besides Kurfi, Dundaye, Gunfa, Gebe and Yar Madara, in Sokoto, they go to Argungu in Kebbi to source it after paying some money to owners of the farms.”
He confirmed that aside being a snack Bado is also medicinal and its roots can be used as herbal medicine.
It seems bado a plant of the past is still relevant to this generation, which means for Kurma and his likes it will continue to be a source of livelihood.