Last weekend, the picture below started making its way around social media with a lot of people asking why NAFDAC would permit Garri to be imported into the country.
I have a few things to say:
I know that at this point, we are horrified, especially with the state of the economy, and we are looking for someone to blame but NAFDAC’s job does not involve deciding what to let in and what not to. They regulate Food and Drug Products in terms of their manufacture. They are just to determine whether the companies that are bringing in these products are doing a good job of manufacturing. C’est fini! We need to find another whipping boy to blame for permitting this into the country.
We are all in different stages of this Buy Nigerian journey. I can’t even say if I am in the middle or close to the end but I did start realizing that things were not right a while ago. And I have said as much on my Instagram page over and over again. I put up a post once asking why people were buying IMPORTED Parachute Coconut Oil rather than Nigerian grown and processed Coconut Oil which is easily accessible. A lot of people spoke about how the quality was better, it was cheaper. Why the uproar over this Garri now? The TRS is probably cheaper (the average Nigerian farmer cannt compete with their capital, yield or even their manufacturing process) and maybe has better quality. Let me tell you why a lot of people find it unacceptable…it hits too close to home. Garri is a staple meal in Nigeria and we were once the highest cassava producers.
The Indians, Chinese, Americans, Finnish, English e.t.c are looking for opportunities everywhere. They travel very far and wide in search of these “opportunities” and a lot of them settle for Nigeria because
- We have the population strength that businesses need in order to be viable.
- Our government appears to allow “investors” even at our own expense.
- This last one is sad but true. We simply lack regard for the products that are made in Nigeria AND OR made by Nigerians living in Nigeria.
If I were a non-Nigerian business person, I would want to exploit every single one of these points. The only thing that can put paid to my plan would be the citizens themselves.
This should be a lesson to us all. People will keep trying to shove into our market. We can and should counter this where we can provide a similar service.
So, to echo the wise counsel of Barack Obama, “Don’t boo! Vote!” He was talking about the U.S elections but in this case, I speak about the ability to have a product be a success in our markets. Why do the TRS folks have the audacity to sell this in our market? Because we have shown them that we like NON-Nigerian things. We need to show them, with our naira, that we are changing or have changed. If we really feel affronted by TRS selling Garri (which they badly spelt GARI), we should vote with our Naira to make sure they do not feel welcome in our market.
Lastly, don’t just do this with Garri! Remember that there are a lot of locally made products in this market that would do with us patronizing it.
I wish you all a time when you can be like this:
P.S: – What really irks me is the fact that TRS Gari will be found in many shops abroad and when a foreigner (or even some Nigerians living abroad) want to buy Garri, they will default to this brand because it is a well known brand and there is a high level of consumer trust. This brand will earn the precious foreign exchange that our local brands NEED to earn. It just doesn’t sit right.