Karu abattoir is one of the animal slaughtering centres in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, where meat consumers and traders gather on a daily basis to trade on animals as well as raw meat for home consumption or commercial use.
Located a few meters away from the Nyanya-Keffi Expressway, the abattoir announces itself to the visitor by the stench that emanates from animal faeces. Every morning, branded vehicles from all parts of the FCT find their ways to the market to buy from the array of rams and animal meat on display.
From all indications, businesses worth millions of naira are transacted in the abattoir daily. No fewer than 3,000 animals consisting mainly of goats, rams and cows are slaughtered in the abattoir daily. The figure goes up higher by 30 percent at weekends and doubles during festive periods.
This is where Emeka Brendon, from Enugu State, sells rams during festive periods. He was one of the many ram sellers who made brisk business at the market during the recent Eid-el-Kabir celebration.
Brendon told THE WHISTLER that he made the best sales in the market this year with his brand of unique rams.
Unlike the sour experience of other ram traders across the country who complained of low sales, Brendon, who buys his ram from the far northern ram markets in Sokoto and Kebbi States, narrated a pleasant experience.
Brendon told our correspondent that ram sellers were apprehensive about sales this year due to the economic situation of the country. He said, “In fact, most of us were so scared that we may end up not selling anything when it was 3 days to sallah. Two days to the celebration, everybody was surprised. Our rams were bought massively and almost everything I brought to the market was sold.
“This Year, I brought 120 rams and I sold about 105. I’m left with 15 unsold rams, after making so much gain this year. The ram business this year is very wonderful! We thank God.
“My most prized ram is 950,000 naira; it’s a Sudanese ram imported from Sudan. Buyers were pricing it for me at the rate of N850,000 but I told them this is not a Nigerian ram, and I couldn’t sell it at that price. And if I’m unable to sell it this year, I will keep feeding it and sell it next year.
“The smallest ram among my rams this year is N230,000 and last year’s sale was poor. The biggest ram I sold was between N250,000 to N350,000. I took about 80 to 90 rams to the market but ended up selling about 70 rams.”
Brendon said last year, he paid N1,500 or less for the cost of transporting each ram, but this year, he paid 3,500 naira per ram.
He said in ecstatic tone that many people were complaining of no money last year, and didn’t buy many of his rams. But this year, when the price of ram is almost double, people bought many of his rams.
He explained that the reason why his rams were sold off this year had nothing to do with him having stand-by customers, but because he had big rams that attracted buyers.
“I only have two of such stand-by customers, but I still managed to get high patronage. This is because my rams are big enough to attract customers,” he said.
Explaining the high cost of rams, he said “It’s not every bush market that sells livestock to us in the north now because of the insurgency there. And this of course affected the price of rams, coupled with the cost of transportation.
“The scarcity of fuel makes the cost of transporting these rams to also go high. All these are part of the reasons why rams are costly this year.”
But while Brendon is smiled to the bank during the Sallah period, many of his counterparts are lamenting abysmal sales.
Kabiru Ibrahim said he paid 4,000 to 5000 this year for each ram transported from the bush markets in the North where rams are sold, down to Abuja, while a trailer load to Abuja cost about N700,000. He however, couldn’t recoup most of his investments in the rams.
Mallam Idris Babangida, a ram seller in Kugbo Market, lamented low patronage, describing this year’s sallah celebration as the worst in terms of sales.
Babangida said they knew things were hard for people but did not expect this year’s sales to be so bad for them.
He said, “The least ram I have in my stand is N130,000, and the highest is N350,000. I deal mainly on male species based on the demand of consecutive years in the past. If only I had more female rams I’ll not be complaining this much, as I would mate them with the males and start preparing for next year’s sales hopefully.
“Last year, I sold my biggest ram for N230,000 and the smallest for N75,000. I have a customer that buys two big rams and a small one, this year he bought just one big ram.”
He added that one of the reasons that contributed to the hike in prices this year is the consistent insecurity in the north.
He said most livestock owners could not focus on the business because many lost their cattle to banditry. Those who could continue the business increased the prices.
He lamented poor sales, saying “Unfortunately, I still couldn’t sell off my rams. I’m at a loss on several angles because I have old rams that need to be sold out, else they die.
“ I also have debts to clear from the people I bought rams from. This isn’t how I envisioned this year’s sales.”