Roasted Corn: Satisfying Hunger, Returns Good Profit
Whether one calls it maize or corn, it’s no secret that this cereal crop is now in season and farmers and petty traders are making fortunes with it. Some pretty traders have changed their regular businesses to preparing roasted corn snacks, which could be taken as in-between meals snacks or even like a full meal with local pear, coconut, kernel or even butter to go with.
Known for its richness in carbohydrate, iron, protein, sodium and other elements such as manganese, corn meal is among Africa’s stable cuisine.
Popularly called mouth organ, some traders sell it with its husk boiled, while others sell it roasted. Whichever type one prefers it, corn snacks have remained a daily delicacy for some people.
According to Mama Shade, roasting maize is a seasonal trade that comes with the rain. Commenting on what attracted her the business, she said, “I need to sell roasted corn to raise money for my other businesses. I make close to N30,000 a month. Corn is a wonder crop; in fact, no part of it is wasted. I sell both cooked and roasted, and I have never regretted coming into the business.
“I buy a full bag of corn with the husk between N5,000 to N10,000 and by the time I remove the husk and roast, I make between N30,000 and N50,000. I sell the corn according to their sizes; the bigger the corn, the higher the price. In some bags one could be fortunate to find 50 big corns, which sells between N100 and N200 each depending on a customer’s bargaining power; that means N5,000 to N10,000, which is almost the cover price of a bag.
“I sell three bags in a week; so, the returns is worth the while. For within this season, I can boast of having made enough to enable me go into other petty trade, when the rains are over,” she revealed.
For Iya Amedi, the business is good now there is corn in abundance. Giving her experience, she disclosed that she has two shops for both boiled and roasted corn.
According to her, she made provisions for customers to make their choice. “I cannot really tell whether the roasted or boiled corn brings in more money, for all I know is that the cooked one finishes faster than the roasted. In fact, I spend less time preparing it and I also try to always finish each pot in the day, so that, the cobs do not taste sour the next day. But the roasted cobs sell at any time even into late evenings; so far there are buyers.
“Selling corn brings quick and huge returns. I sometimes make up to N25,000 from the N5,000 bag of corn I buy. If in a nice location, where there is a lot of human traffic, a bag can bring in the money for two or three others, depending on sizes of the cobs in the bag. I make a daily contribution of N3,000 from my sales outside the overall profit. It is a magic crop that enriches sellers,” she said.
What does a newcomer need to come into the business? Iya Amedi disclosed that the business requires as little as N5,000 to begin.
“You do not need a huge to capital to start, just get high portable grill to roast the corn and, of course a regular supply of charcoal. But if one wants to go into cooking it, then a tripod stand, charcoal and clean water are the necessary things required. In case, you want to be on a busy road, then be prepared to regularly pay local government officials operational charges.
“It costs less to begin; all I have listed are below N10,000. So, it is not a business that involves huge capital, but you just need a good location for people to see the cobs and patronize you.
For Mr. Ezenwa, whose wife sells roasted corn, while he goes to farm to harvest the produce, said a lot of people depend on corn food, especially now it is in season. “As early as 6am customers come to me, so that we can go to my farm to harvest corn. It is never enough and because of the limited supply, we leave the pricing to individual’s ability to bargain. Though, my farm is large, I still depend on farmers from the neighbouring villages for supply.
“Either cooked, roasted or in powder, corn sells at anytime. I bought my first car with the money made from selling corn,” he said.
While some are in the business of procuring the produce, others are busy preparing it as snacks to be eaten at anytime.
For Mama Folake, whose two daughters are helping out in the roasting and cooking of fresh corn, the business is like any high yielding ventureinvolves hard work.
“ I at times leave home by 5am for Mile 12 or any of rural markets around Lagos State, including Ogun State,to get corn. These markets sell large quantity of this farm produce at a give away price. Getting these produce from these markets increases my profit and enables me buy large quantity for keep. I visit these markets thrice a week. While I do this, my children handle the roasting and cooking.
“I make between N40,000 to N60,000 as overall profit every month. The business, though puts me on the road, has placed food on my table, pays my rents and enabled me fund my children’s education as a widow. Nigerians cannot do with eating corn and we can never stop making money from their taste,” she said.
On how her business has grown to include her children handling some parts of it, Mama Folake disclosed that she started from the roadside and with focus and hard work it has grown to the extent, she now buys large stock of corn.
“I started from the roadside, roasting and cooking corn in a tripod stand. But with hard work and dedication, I was able to use the money to buy more bags of corn. Some farmers saw my seriousness and began to sell on credit to me and with time I have come to be what I am today, selling roasted corn.
“I also sell pears, coconut and kernel, which are used to consume corn. Whether roasted or cooked, corn taste better when you combine it with pear or coconut,” she said.
What It Takes To Excel In Roasting, Cooking Corn
• Choose a nice busy location that is not dusty and free from filth.
• Have in stock pears, kernel and coconut, these condiments promote sales and increase earnings.
• Do not over heat the corn, so that it does not turn black and unfit for consumption.
• Do not add salt while cooking or roasting, rather deep each cob of cooked or roasted corn into salt solution, you will surely achieve the same result as salting it.
• Always keep it warm, as this would keep it soft. If it’s hard, it becomes difficult to chew.
• Have different sizes on display, but most time the bigger ones attract customers.
• Always make sure the charcoal is properly dried as moist charcoal produces soot and smoke that may spoil the taste and smell of the corn.
• Also avoid roasting on the flame, let the heat from the coal do the roasting.
• Maintain good hygiene and never allow customers to pick the cobs by themselves, instead let them point at their choice while with your spoon or fork serve it to them.