MUHAMMAD SABIU writes on a market in Kaduna where frogs are now attracting buyers from far and near, an item that is now a delicacy in most part of the North and a clear departure from what it used to be years back.
MANY Nigerians who were in secondary school in the 70s and 80s would easily remember the novel authored by Chukwuemeka Ike entitled Toads for Supper. However, it is a delicacy that many people would not touch even with a long spoon much less having it for supper.
Long time ago, in the Northern part of the country frogs were only seen during the rainy season. Whenever it rained, just like everywhere surrounded by ponds, cacophonic sound of frogs dominated the space at night. It is most often not pleasant to the ears.
When residents wake up in the morning, they sometimes find out that some of the frogs had entered their house. It is also not uncommon to hear housewives and children raising the alarm and asking the man of the house to come and remove the amphibians from their doorstep and other parts of the compound.
A housewife, Hajiya Rabi Abdulsalam recalled to Arewa Live how as a child she and her siblings used to jump at the mere sight of a frog. “It was our father who usually removed the frog before we could continue with the house chores,” she said.
However, today, the story is different. There is a booming frog market in the Northern part of the country.
Located at Unguwar Gwari, Kaduna North area of Kaduna State, the frog market is often besieged by hundreds of youths bringing the frogs they had caught from surroundings ponds.
Investigations by Arewa Live indicated that the soaring number of the unemployed people in the country had contributed to the booming trade in frogs. It has also been discovered that some parts of the frog are medicinal and traditional healers come to the market to obtain them for their clients.
Some of the frog traders whose ages range between 26 and 34 in an interview with Arewa Live attributed their interest in the frog business to poverty.
One of the frog traders who pleaded for anonymity remarked that he was idle and having nothing to do, hence he decided to join others in the business.
“We are five in the family and we were finding it difficult to have three square meals per day,” he said adding: “when one of my siblings fell sick and nobody could pay for his medical bills it dawned on me to look for something to support my dad’s income.”
Today, according to him, the story has changed because on a daily basis, he smiles home with at least N8,000 which he uses to support his age parents.
For Felix Peter, one of those who ply their trade at the Unguwan Gwari frog market gave a graphic account on how he started the business three years ago.
According to him, “it was lack of employment that made me to start this business, and I have enjoyed it because there is big market for it all over the 19 northern states including Abuja.
“It was a difficult business for me in the beginning, but now I have become very versed in the business, because every day, I usually go to the pond to catch some frogs which I normally bring home and preserve for sale.
“After catching them from various places, we dissect and roast them, and then we package them inside the carton. We put some in some bags for sale to our marketers who usually come from various states.
“I was a mechanic before I abandoned it and joined this one. Our customers told us that frog meat is delicious and that is why we like eating it always. We sell each frog at the rate of N100, but we sell three for N200.”
Felix also told Arewa Live that through the business he has become a more responsible man by being able to take care of his wife and children. He added that he makes at least N5,000 daily and that makes him happy.
Felix however expresses fear over the issue of insecurity in the state as it indirectly affects those in the business because they are always in the bush. He therefore called on the state government to provide all the needed security in the bush.
Abubakar Shelang is also one of the frog traders. He was also into another vocation before changing to his present business. He said he had to switch business because the frog business was booming and that means more income.
“I was a bricklayer and I also repair bread mixing machines, but the business was not moving, that is why I left it and joined this one.
“We take our roasted frog meat to many places across the entire North because the demand for it is high and we are making money every day through this business. Every day I go to catch frogs. I make good money and that takes care of all my needs,” Shelang said.
He, however, called on youth to shun idleness and embrace skill acquisition and other forms of creative vocations so as to reduce dependency on their parents and guardians.
Felix also appealed to government to help them with modern equipment for catching frogs so as to overcome the challenges they face when catching big frogs and other aquatics animals in the river.
“There are millions of youths that are wasting their time looking for white-collar-jobs, but I am advising them to be creative and fight poverty,” he said.
A woman, Madam Mercy John trades in frogs. She buys them from the youths and transports them to many places across the entire north.
She has the youths to thank for the business she is into. They not only make the product available they also link her with customers from many places including some from neighbouring countries. The business of frog trading is so good for mercy such that she has built her own house in Abuja.
She is of the opinion that government should support the youth with capital so as to enlarge the business and make it more profitable. She also advocated for frog farming just like we have fish farming.
“I am calling on women like me to come and start this business so as to stop disturbing their husbands,” she said.
For many people eating frogs may sound unsavoury but for Musa Dan Auta who buys frogs from those catching them for food at home it is a familiar delicacy that he has come to love including other members of his family.
According to him, eating frog is not strange to him because he has been eating them since he was a youngster. He would like others to try it too.