Vacational trading: Chad's schoolchildren into cassava business

APA - Ndjamena (Chad)

Many Ndjamena College and High School girls, who usually sell cassava during the holidays, have once again put on their work clothes, after the end of the academic year, to crisscross the streets of the Chadian capital, carrying a dish of cassava tuber on the head.

They have invested so much in this small business that it has almost become their preserve, to the delight of the Ndjamena people, who can find on every street corner charming female smiles, offering them raw or steamed cassava.

Before wetting customers’ appetite, the young vendors get their supplies from gardeners, who are the main producers of cassava they plant in their fields located under the double-track bridge, which spans the Chari River. Their production this year has been exceptional because since the beginning of the current month, cassava has been flooding local markets.

A great opportunity for Frida, a third grade student, to get into cassava sales. Like many schoolgirls, she travels all day long highways of Ndjamena, following a route from the Avenue Joseph Brahim Seid. This strategic artery is adjacent to Bololo neighborhoods, Mardjan Daffack and Djambal Bahr, where the girl has loyal customers.

Found in the process of peeling the bark of a cassava tuber with a knife, as requested by a client, she explains, between two knife strokes, that her tubers cost between 100 and 500 CFA francs. It all depends on the length of the cassava root and the volume of the client’s purse.

A client by the name of Abakar, says he prefers raw cassava. Then, in a knowing glance, he adds: “According to some traditional indiscretions, manioc eaten raw is good for man, it strengthens manhood.”

Far from these thoughts on virility, Soli, a young high school student, prefers to dwell on her daily recipes, which says can go up to “5000 CFA francs or more.” Asked about the use of her income, she explains: “We save money so that as we approach the next school year, we can help parents with the purchase of school supplies.”

For some girls whose parents are well-off, the sale of cassava allows them to fully take care of their schooling, including registration fees and the purchase of school supplies. 


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