Have you ever asked yourself how that rice got to your plate? Here is this beautiful Jollof sitting pretty on the dining table in between cutleries on both sides and facing your mouth ready to devour such sumptuous goodness. Have you bothered to think the journey it took that grain to get into your stomach and fill you up?
Shuaib was tying up the knots on the tires when Garuba approached him ‘’do you want us to sleep here? Is it until they start calling my phone or do you want another person to go and pack the bags? My friend hurry up let us go’’ Shuaib grinned as he proceeds to the last tire to complete the check-up of the truck before giving Shuaib the go-ahead to start warming up the vehicle. Its been 3 days since their last trip and he is gearing to be on the road again, especially since they will be delivering in Kano, he would finally take a few days off to be with his relatives, it’s been ages since he visited them, it would seem just right to come visiting this corona season with some goodies.
Voooooom… voooom voooom… The engine revved, Shuaib gave his signal to Garuba to confirm go time, ‘’make I deh fire?’’ he asked, ‘’Carry on oga mi you no get problem’’ Sanusi replied with a smile on his face, he dusted himself as he packed up his tools box, he slid them behind the passenger seat and sat up, whistling to himself as he waived his trailer park friends goodbye. Garuba maneuvered his way uphill to the main highway as they begin a 45 mins drive to the aggregation site at Gurum, a suburb in Ganye local government in Adamawa state.
Shuaib has been Garuba’s deputy as he travels all over Nigeria, loading, offloading, and delivering farm produce from farms to warehouses and to the markets. The sight of them has come to be a sign of relief to farmers, aggregators, and traders alike, they are responsible for connecting demand to supply thereby providing sustenance to the agro value chain. Shuaib hits the radio for the umpteenth time, turning it to find a station playing oldies. They took another bend off the highway and drove through the muddy road into the aggregation site at Gurum.
‘sanu Mallam’ Garuba greeted as he came down from the vehicle, ‘make your boys load fast o, hold up don deh build for road’ he added, ‘haba my friend come and open your back, how was the journey here, I thought you will be late again today’ he joked.
Garuba walked behind Mallam Bashiru as they went into the makeshift office at the far end of the warehouse to iron out the paperwork for the farm produce he would be transporting to the Food Processing site in yankaba, he watched from the window of the office as Shuaib led the loaders into the truck, supervising them as they filled the truck with bags of paddy rice, all 430 bags of unprocessed paddy rice delivered to the aggregation site a few days ago by the nearby local farmers.
In less than an hour, loading was done and all necessary paperwork sorted, Garuba was sitting in the warehouse punching on his phone with much gusto, mallam Bashiru called out to him, ‘’yaro, you no go carry your truck comot for road, another truck deh come na’’ Garuba stood up to make his way to the truck, facing Shuaib he asked ‘’you don see your alert?, check your Tingg wallet before we enter road o’’ ‘I don hear ping ping just now, I trust you oga mi’’ Shuaib responded, cleaning the dust settled on the screen of his phone. He quickly signed into his tingg wallet to confirm receipt of the share his boss transferred to him.
In another 30 minutes, Garuba was hitting the speed limit on the highway, all geared up for another 6-hour drive to yankaba in kano. Both men have braced the numerous dangers on the road and unforeseen of the nights, putting their lives at risk to make sure food gets to every market in the nation, Shuaib drew strength and inspiration from the happy faces ready to welcome him at yankaba market as they drive through the ever-busy motor park to the food processors, the trader’s hopes of getting freshly processed and packaged paddy rice rises every time they see truck drivers move in to offload at the food processing site, they know they will be able to approach and purchase from the retailers soon. The linkage from aggregation site to food processors site to wholesalers/retailers warehouse won’t be possible without the like of Garuba, the traders won’t have anything to buy if they didn’t ensure these farm supplies get to the markets on time, Garuba knows his role is very vital in ensuring Nigerians feed and he was not going to falter on his delivery time.
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Speeding off into the sunset Garuba nods and hums to the classic tune playing on the radio ‘Jemila kin chi amanata at huare, kin chi amanata.’’ Sweet thoughts of his cousins running into his arms warmed his heart, he smiled as he envisioned the sight of them taking spoonfuls of rice consuming that sumptuous goodness of Jollof in the bowl knowing fully well he had an essential role to play in ensuring millions feed across the nation.