SURVIVING the Times
Since deprivation has become something to be proud of by our elites, I suppose it is high time we talked about it. According to credible international studies, a stunning majority of my people live below the poverty line: US$1 per day. So that (falsely) identifying with the masses by laying questionable claims to childhood shoelessness enthroned one President, and may yet enthrone another if claiming to borrow N27m for nomination form does not sound incredibly incredulous, and irresponsible, to the deciding masses.
Anyway, times are hard; shoeless or indebted or however masses-like you actually are. Earlier this week, I said that agriculture was not very encouraging at the moment, and that it would be wiser to buy (cheap) land. (SEE, The Potential V: Assets, Liabilities) One of my listeners gave me the da-padà attitude, and I smiled... I was the farmer, he was not; yet he was confident enough to disagree with moi, and remind me that I am only a small-time farmer.
Well then, if feeding costs are high and demand for livestock is low, if people barely have enough to eat basics not to talk of meat and eggs, if farmers are pushing out stock at gbànjo prices to counter rising maintenance costs; will you say farming is good at the moment? Especially if you consider that we buy same feed at same price, however small or large your farm is?
At the cost of being rather late than never, here's what I suppose can save us: Anticipation. (SEE, The Potential VI: The Way You Eat Your Mango) Times are getting harder, no doubt; it is getting harder to get by. The people that used to mock my doomsday stance are now themselves feeling the pinch... Some 31 states are expected to have trouble paying salaries, and, of course, we are not broke– officially. So, do pay attention.
The trick is to minimise unit cost, and overall expenses.
On unit cost, buy in bulk. Of course I understand that you cannot possibly buy everything at once. If you could you wouldn't need to read this; not so? I therefore beg you to buy everything else the way you have always bought them, but try to buy the highlighted item for each month as prescribed, or, if that is too much to ask, in halves or quarters. Whatever you do, buy at 'dozen-price'.
FIRST MONTH. I found out that garri was more versatile than rice as a staple. Last I checked, a 'baff' of garri was N6000. Buy half, or quarter. It doesn't spoil if you keep your sac off the ground, and away from water. And keep it well tied, pests love food, especially at times such as this.
SECOND MONTH: Next is rice. Last I checked, the cheapest was N7800, the small-seed rice. And yes, you should sacrifice taste and pride for longevity and sustenance, and buy the cheapest. A bag won't hurt. It doesn't spoil if you keep it off the floor, from fluids, and from pests. Typically takes 6 to 9 months for us to devour one. Catch my drift?
THIRD MONTH: It is time to consider melon. Not beans. Buying two or three kongos keeps your mind at rest. Would suggest pepper as well, IF you can preserve it– which I doubt. My issue with beans has always been preservation. Did you just say dry pepper? If you have your way around that, then invest galore.
FOURTH MONTH: How d'you buy your oil? It may be time to step it up a notch. A 25-litre keg of Kings vegetable oil is N6000. Are you up to it? Palm oil is cheaper in May or so, you may want to wait till then. In the mean time, anyway, 5-litre is some N1200. Well, same rules apply: off the floor please!
FIFTH MONTH: The box of spaghetti has 20 packs for N2000 or so... Perhaps you prefer noodles. And the box of satchet tomato paste has so many! Woulda recommended the big De Rica tin; but then it soon spoils, especially with our epilepsy of a power supply. Salt too: buy kongo, or the satchet; just keep the moisture out.
SIXTH MONTH: What else d'you use often and buy as much? Can't it be bought in bulk? Did you say recharge card? Buy the 'pack'... A pack is 10 vouchers. N930 for N100-vouchers, and N1860 for N200-vouchers. You still dey subscribe, àbí? You get mouth. For those of us less privileged, or pretending to be, here's a little trick. Have two SIMs, one internet friendly, say, EasyCliq, and one call friendly, say, EasyLite 4.0. Load on Cliq, then transfer to Lite... Perfectly legal; and I shall not say more!
SEVENTH MONTH: Detergent nko? D'you still buy N20 worth? Àbí na N30; no vex, e don tey... Buy 2-kg. E no dey spoil o, and e no dey gree finish. As long as you keep it dry; clip the mouth... You must have noticed that I'm not much for sharing, buy the whole thing if you can. Maybe it's trust issues; maybe it's experience; maybe it's commonsense. But one must think rich to be rich!
EIGHTH MONTH: Don't forget your bills, especially your NEPA bill. Although a story for another day, suffice to say that paying every month is actually cheaper. Apart from decongesting your debt,it reduces your VAT: 5% of whatever you owe. Encourage your neighbours to pay: when they don't, even you won't have 'light'. And don't mind the NEPA-haters, you can prevent estimate billing if you know how. Do watch out for that one.
By now you are off the hook, or so it seems. D'you have a blender? D'you always buy bread? D'you plant anything at all? tomatoes, pepper, vegetables? Those are the questions that determine how much easily life gets! They say gas is cheaper than kerosene; you may want to look into it. They say not eating out is being miserly... Well, this is how I keep afloat. This is how I manage to afford my excesses. And it just may be worth looking into... (SEE Experiments in Food Economics)
Nothing ventured, nothing lost.
Ayk Fowosire (c/o #Ayk_EDIT)
I have always advocated ownership of land. If you own a plot, farm with half. If you own an acre, farm with all but a plot. If you own a hectare, then you are king. If you own more, we need to talk. I have some crazy ideas for you.
Plantain is my love atm. Prolific, rugged, and rewarding. Just get a good breed. And if you are lucky, twins make sense die. The way Nigeria is headed, the more control you have over your food, the money control you have over your life. And there are still things money just cannot buy...
And, oh, on a smaller scale, when your savings, scrapings, actually, start pooling substantially, the following make life easier: deep freezer, washing machine, sewing machine, generator, oven– I won't say blender again.
For fear of being garrulous, I shall stop here. Hope you garnered a thing or two... Hope say e nefa too long. I'm working on that!