About two months ago, during the season of okro, Oduma farmers witnessed yet another vexed situation of incredibly humiliating market price. A big basin of Okro was sold at N300!
At that period I confronted some uninformed fellows who believed that the price of Okro was low because of coronavirus lockdown. Why was the price of tomatoes, onions, vegetable going up at every cities and towns; why was a cup of garri sold to Ndi Oduma at an increased price then; is Okro not classified as perishable and as an essential goods? I argued.
We would only have to look into the immediate past to be able to see that the pattern is just the same, but with novel excuses every year on why our farm produces are sold like they are some piece of shit. In 2015, 2017 and 2018 okro seasons, a basin of okro was between N150 and N400, and this shocked many because Oduma then have accessible road.
The fact was that the prices of “essential goods and services” were all up during the period and farmers were among the few categories of individuals whom the unfortunate world crisis enriched then.
Our people had believed that central to the plight of farmers is the absence of motorable road.
The deceit in this is simply too obvious. The same farmers who were forced to sell at laughable prices would be paying for as high as N22,000 for one bag of fertilizer, N6,000 for a can of weed chemicals, N700 for a painter of Nkerefi garri!
Then, from Christmas festival, the harvest season of our fine grains of rice, intelligent buyers would come from cities and buy them off at ridiculous price of N5,000 or N7,000 per 50kg-bag.
Because these farmers are already in huge debts, they would be unable to settle their creditors even with the entire year labour, thereby carrying personal deficit over to the following year. Then, they begin to wait for the rain to begin another cycle of excruciating cheating and humiliation. Thus our mothers and fathers live from in hand-to-mouth condition, starting and ending every year in penury. No one has attempted to plot a way out.
This problem is particularly serious and, for about four years, I’ve sought answers alongside some supremely intelligent young people from Ameke, Amagu, Ohofia, Ukete, Obeagu and Ngenanwa Nta villages. At the root of this, we discovered, is the fact that Oduma is not a popular name.
As if in answer to that research, some savvy entrepreneurs of Oduma extraction are now ready to boost our brand.
Oduma Rice Ltd is a newly founded company, a registered distribution chain that is based in Alaba, Lagos.
I met the director, a prominent son of Oduma, and I said, “Oga, be sincere please, tell me why you choose to do this wonderful thing. The name of this business!”
“First of all, I want to let you know that I’m not seeking for a popularity -I’m already known.” He began.
“So don’t call my name on Aluta or on social media or when you speak to the press anytime. Let Oduma be popular, not me.” He continued.
In a world where businessmen everywhere would want all the world to know they are the very story behind such a great enterprise as Oduma Rice Ltd, I had to marvelled at the simplicity of this great son. What a large patriotic heart!
This business is already dominating foodstuff retail shops in Lagos, with a staggering budget to take over markets in other mega cities like Port Harcourt, Onitsha, Aba, Akwa Ibom, and Enugu city.
There are great talents in Oduma -industrialists, comedians, musicians, entrepreneurs, politicians, journalists. We have the potentials enough to get our name written on the lips of every man in the world. But we are not shinning yet, the primary obstacle being that our town is known only in few places.
Publicist gurus have emphasize for so long the correlation between visibility and value. There may be a billion-dollar worth stones and precious pearls in deepest part of seas but so long those stones and pearls are not seen, they do not hold worth more than a disgusting motes in the toilet.
Recently, Mazi Akapta, a rising comedian from Oduma, released phenomenal video clips but there has been extremely difficulties on our ways as we are selling the young talent. So also is the Swanky, an Amorji-born musical Star boy.
It seems, eventually, that doors of successes would open to our farmers and to Oduma as an enclave. With the activities of Oduma Rice Ltd rocking Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous city, and with the with the willingness of its director to push more fund to expand the reach, its going to be easier to sell our talents and improve the quality of our dear name, Oduma.
Other industrialists who are helping the image of Oduma outside our borders include Dollarman, the billionaire businessman and Mr. Sunday Njoku (aka Potential) of Amagu.
Hanger Table Water has long dominated Oduma and is enforcing greater expansion far into markets in our neighboring towns. Its made in Oduma!
Dollarsman has a company at the outskirts of Oduma, in Ohofia.
Ada N’ Egbu Azu is another thriving enterprise which draws people from outside Oduma.
The creativity of our people deserves serious publicity especially in the harsh economic world when the best could be denied his rights if he lacks personality.
And, presently, there is no one single factor which is increasing our brand like Oduma Rice Ltd.