Just like the oldest method of preserving meat via the use of solar energy, Kilishi (dried meat delicacy) also passes through similar process during preparation.
But the latter is prepared as special snacks not for the purpose of preservation contrary to what always come to mind when meat is being spread to dry.
Jos Road in Kaduna Metropolis of Kaduna North Local government area of the state is always a busy spot as people from various walks of life visit the area to transact one business or the other. The popularity of the street may not be unconnected with dried meat business otherwise known as Kilishi, being the most noticeable trade in that area as about 80 percent of the residents are said to specialize in preparing it.
Of course, kilishi business has earned the traders recognition both within and outside the country because many patrons travel to the state or give the special meat delicacy as special gift to their loved ones in other parts of the country or Nigerians in Diaspora.
Preparing Kilishi is not as tasking as many may think, according to Alhaji Dan-Azumi, one of the sellers. Fresh and hygienic meat is the major ingredient which is spiced with seasoning, chilies, salt, groundnut, and pepper, etc after which it is roasted in an oven after undergoing processing.
Alhaji Dan-Azumi who is in his late 40s has been in the trade for the past 35 years. He said he learned the business from his late father and that it was the only source of income for his family. He recalled," my late father has never engaged in any business apart from kilishi trade that I inherited. So I learned how to prepare it at an early age , while in primary school. Although, I do go to school in the morning but immediately I come back from school, I join the other employees in preparing it.
He said that even when he went to secondary school he did not quit the trade explaining that he maintained his normal daily routine of going to school in the morning and continuing with the trade immediately after school hours.
He said he obtained a Diploma in Purchasing and Supply from the Kaduna polytechnic , attributing the success of his entire educational pursuit to the income made from the dried meat business.
On graduation he did not even make any attempt to apply for a job either in the public or private organizations preferring to be self employed, thus he fully embraced the Kilishi business.
Dan Azumi revealed that a prospective Kilishi trader or starter must acquire the skills of preparing and processing the dried meat which he describes as snacks.
He explained the steps that must be taken in preparing the delicacy . "It is done step by step right from slicing of the meat, spreading the sliced meat on Karan-gado ( a locally made bed for spreading the meat to dry under the sun)."
"After drying the meat, then ingredients like grinded pepper (dried), seasoning (like Royco cubes, Maggi cubes, Ajino motto to mention a few) are mixed together with salt and grinded, to which some quantity of water is added to make a syrup which the dried meat is being dipped, removed and spread on the same Karan-gado to re-dry and finally the meat is roasted in oven".
While learning the steps for preparing the delicacy is vital , the most important requirement is the finance to purchase all the ingredients and equipments like knife, Karan-gado, show-glass, tables, benches among others and then rent a shop or an open space where he/she can operate before embarking on this kind of business, Dan Azumi stated. He pointed out the least amount which a small scale trader can start with is N20, 000 and that anything short of that would be too meagre to start the business considering the basic requirement needed for trade coupled with inflation.
According to Danazumi, Kilishi business is very lucrative and more favourable to traders who produce in large quantities, adding that he records more sales during the weekends of between N3, 000 to N5,000 during the weekdays as against N7, 000 and N10, 000 made at weekends.
Dan-Azumi who started his personal business with an initial capital of N700 admitted that his capital has increased tremendously with over N50, 000 running capital even though he said he utilizes part of the profit to carter for his family's need.
On the people that patronize his business, he explained that they are of two categories i.e. those within the country and Nigerians in Diaspora. His words," most of our customers are travellers from all walks of life and they are of two categories. The first category are clients within the country especially people from the eastern and southern parts of the country and then Nigerians in other countries of the world".
He has nine workers working for him and they perform different functions, he said.
"This kind of trade requires division of labour to make it faster, so all my employees have their different roles in the process. For instance one worker specializes in slicing the meat, while another employee spreads of the sliced meat on Karan-Gado to dried, another person does the mixing of spices. Another one does the dipping of the meat into the syrup mixture, while another employee undertakes roasting of the meat up to the final process of arranging the delicacy in a show glass by the sales person", he nararted.
The amount of money paid to the workers vary, depending on the task performed by each worker.
He said "I pay my employees daily depending on the work done on that day and some of them are sponsoring their selves to secondary schools with what they are getting from this business" said the trader.
kilishi has no specific price because it depends on the size or quantity required by a client as a result it can be from N50 above he explained .
He is of the view that the business can be enhanced with adequate capital saying, "In every business notwithstanding the nature, adequate capital and management are the keys to enhancing it. Therefore the government could play an important role by providing soft loans to traders which would drastically reduce the problem of unemployment in the country", the trader noted.
He said "getting a bigger space can further improve the sales and income of my business. As you can see we are operating in front of our houses because we don't have alternative. Although the place is quite big but to expand the scale of the business we have to move to a bigger place that can accommodate all our equipments and where we can carry out our work conveniently and conductively".
Maintaining high hygienic condition of the dried meat starting from the method of preparation to the sanitary condition of the environment, is important he said , pointing out that he has registered with the National Agency For food, Drug Administration and Control, (NAFDAC) and the food hygiene association under the auspices of Kaduna south local government.
Pointing at some containers of disinfectants and chemical that they use in cleaning the place every morning and evening, before and after our day's work ", stressing that " we always abide by the rules and regulations of the NAFDAC and all the other health hygiene associations that visit us regularly to inspect our place".
He said these organizations always come to inspect their site and suggest ways which the business can further be enhanced both health and economic wise, noting that they have never violated the guidelines by the NAFDAC or any health organisation.
Although they do not pay rent for the space they occupy, he said they pay annual revenue of N2, 500 to the local government collectors
Kilishi traders face a major difficulty during the rainy season. This is because they operate in an open space and need solar energy to dry the meat. As a result during rainy season, the traders dry the meat under electric fan but this is time consuming .
Another challenge they face is power failure during such a season as they have to fuel their generators to dry the meat and this adds to the cost of production.
Alhaji Rabiu Dan'Auta who has been in the kilishi trade for more than a decade and inherited it has six employees.
He said there is no specific arrangement between him and the workers regarding mode of payment due to the level of understanding between them saying," I pay my employees affordable amount on daily basis because we did not agree on any specific wages to be paid".