Dodo Ikire: A town’s plantain delicacy to motorists, travelers

Sellers of the delicacy

The sleepy and rustic community of Ikire, located in Irewole local government of Osun State is indeed synonymous and strategic, being a border town between Oyo and Osun states.

From Ibadan-Ife expressway, Ikire is the gateway to Osun, Ekiti, Ondo, Edo and some states in the South-South and South-Eastern parts of the country, thus motorists, commuters and passengers, traveling to these states must pass through Ikire axis before reaching their destinations.

Reportedly founded many centuries ago by Prince Akinrere, a renowned elephant hunter from Ile-Ife, Ikire is synonymous with the local production of the popular ‘Dodo Ikire’, a delicacy that is made from ripe plantain. The ditty of the sellers usually welcomes travelers to the town. It is hawked by both the young and old along speed-breaker spots under and around the pedestrian bridge in Ikire,  Gbongan, Odeomu and even in motor parks located at the Iwo road area of Ibadan.

For private and commercial vehicles, traveling from Ibadan, capital of Oyo to Osun, Ekiti, Ondo and other states in the South South and South East, it is usual for occupants of cars, buses and other categories of vehicles to be besieged by hawkers of the delicacy the moment they reduce their speed while approaching the bumps located under the Ikire pedestrian bridge.

However, with the age-long popularity and acceptability which the delicacy had gained over the years and the number of people involved in its production chain and marketing activities, there is no doubting the fact that this local delicacy may be another goldmine if given proper attention and enabling incentives by the Osun State government through investment as prerequisite.

Apart from providing job opportunities for the youth and other older individuals, giving necessary encouragement to the people involved in its making to engage in massive production may also increase the frontiers of revenue generation of the state and enhance local economy.

To this end, the need to invest in local businesses and empower the brains behind such enterprises, becomes imperative, to improve the internally generated revenue of the state, to complement the little accrued from the falling federation allocation.

Obviously, named after the town, the economic value of this locally made appetizer to the community and the state at large should not be underestimated.

According to historical background of the delicacy, it was created as an experiment by a poor, old lady from Ikire. At a point in her life, this old lady had no food left except some bunches of over-ripe plantain, which she would have normally thrown in the bin. But she decided to mash it all up with some salt and pepper and fried it in palm oil. She ate it, enjoyed it and decided to make more which she shared with her neighbours. The end result is what is now known as dodo ikire, named after the town it originated from and sold mostly in the South-western part of Nigeria.

Investigation conducted by Nigerian Tribune indicates that Ajilo compound in Ikire plays host to the major producers of the delicacy in the community. Both young and old in this compound, participate in the production of this product that is made from mostly plantain and other suitable fingers of banana.

Speaking to the Nigerian Tribune, one of the local producers in Ajilo compound, Bukola Lateef, who has been making the product for more than seven years, said “we normally make use of ripe plantain to produce it.”

She stated that “we peel it and pour it into palm oil or groundnut oil. Then, we would begin to stir it until it becomes thick. When its colouration becomes brown, we get a small plastic funnel and begin to stuff it into it so that it can form a funnel shape. This has to be quickly done before it becomes dry. After this process, we would add pepper and then properly package it for sale.”

Children displaying how the delicacy is being made

Asked on the profitability of the delicacy, Bukola remarked “we are making good money from it; I have to tell you the truth. I inherited this business from my great grandmother. We made daily profits from it and we are indeed very encouraged by this.”

Commenting on the challenges inherent in the local production of the delicacy, she said, “we face a lot of problems here in making this local delicacy. Sometimes, we don’t have enough money to buy the bunches of plantain from the farmers and this somehow hampers our business.

“If you look at my palm, you will notice that it is somehow reddish. It is as a result of heat from the frying bowl. It is not easy at all. This would have been avoided if we have modern cooking utensils to work with.”

On what government can do to assist them, she emphasised that “what we need is money. If government or corporate organisations can help us, it would go a long way to boost our production and we will be able to buy better utensils and modern tools to make our work easier.

“This delicacy is very popular and many people like to eat it. If we have access to funds, we can be producing it for export because some people sometimes come around here to purchase it in large quantity to sell abroad at good price. But, they buy it from us cheaply and sell at higher prices in London, America and other countries.”

A 70-year-old woman, Wulemotu Olaniran who has been in the business for decades said her children are not fully into the business, but they helped while they were around before seeking greener pasture.

According to the septuagenarian, “our children help us here while they are still looking for better jobs.  We use the money realized from the selling of this delicacy in giving our children formal education.”

Kazeem Adejare is young and agile. He engages in the sale of the delicacy alongside other young people, who make their livelihood from the business. According to him, “we make at least N3,000 to N4,000 daily as profit, and we often save the money for our education and other new businesses.”

Nonetheless, despite the huge economic potentials of the delicacy, hawkers are exposed to dangers on the highway as they meander through vehicles in a bid to market the delicacy to motorists and commuters.  It will be recalled that about four years ago, one of the young boys, hawking the delicacy was crushed by an articulated vehicle in Ikire.

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