As Sallah celebration approaches, buyers are not readily available in Abuja ram markets.
“This is as a result of high cost of rams,” said Shehu Usman, a ram trader at Dei-dei.
“This year, our rams are sold between N60, 000 and N400, 000. A lot of customers cannot afford so much in this economic climate,” he said.
Mr. Usman told PREMIUM TIMES that the number of customers had dropped significantly compared to last year.
Rams are sacrificed by Muslims during eid-el-kabir to mark the conclusion of Hajj rites.
In Islam, the practice commemorates Allah’s bounty on His messenger, Ibraheem, when He gave him a ram to sacrifice as ransom for his son, Ishmaa’eel.
This year, the eid-el-kabir will be celebrated on September 12.
PREMIUM TIMES met with sellers at ram markets in Dei-dei, Madalla, Karimo and Suleja – all on the outskirts of Abuja.
They said forex rate, rainfall and economic recession were responsible for the unusually high cost of rams, and the scarcity of customers.
Chimezie Nwokeogu, a ram dealer, said this year’s celebration came during the rainy season.
“Some buyers do not like to buy the rams to keep now that it’s constantly raining. Many of these rams are bred where rains are not so constant. So, our buyers decide not to buy and keep the rams in open spaces under the rain,” he said.
“Although the market is very slow right now, we are waiting for two to three days before Sallah to know if sales will improve or not,” he said.
Hassan Haruna, a dealer, explained that the forex rate is one of the problems dealers encounter.
“We get our rams from Niger republic and they use Cephas. Last year, we bought at N300 per 200 Cephas. This year, we are buying at N645 per 200 Cephas.”
“Another problem is transportation, we spend so much to bring the rams back. All these contribute to the increase in prices.”
“However, the increase in ram prices between last year and now is not so much. I sold small rams at N40,000 last year but now same ram goes for about N50,000,” he said.
According to Haruna, his loyal customers are collecting rams on credit.
“They complain about not having enough money, we give them on credit because of customer loyalty,” he said.
For Umaru Salisu, the difference in ram prices between 2015 and 2016 lies in the timing.
“Last year, we had customers purchasing large number of rams 10 days to Sallah. Now this is six days to Sallah, customers are scarce. They say there is no money,” he said.
“Before now, companies and institutions purchase 100 to 200 rams for their workers. This year however, we haven’t seen anything like that. We are still hoping that in the coming days, buyers will come,” he said.
According to Mr. Salisu, many people are struggling to feed their families. Due to this struggle, they cannot afford to buy ram for Sallah. However, the traders are hopeful that business will pick up in no time.
“Even if we do not sell all the rams before Sallah is over, people will still buy them for other occasions like wedding and naming ceremonies,” he said.
On a contrasting note however, Auwal Zango, a ram dealer, told PREMIUM TIMES that the economic hardship had made rams cheaper.
“Last year, we sold rams for as much as N60, 000 but now even with N20, 000 you can buy one.
“The hardship has made many dealers broke. We can only buy cheap rams,” he said.