Nigeria's Palm Wine Tappers Face Uphill Task
Sapele, Nigeria, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 12th Oct, 2021 ) :Every morning, Wilson Ovwiroro leaves home early to paddle a wooden canoe into thick rainforest in southern Nigeria, where he taps raffia trees, making palm wine from their fermented sap.
Once the delight of traditional ceremonies, the local beverage is suffering a decline in popularity, battered by modern breweries.
The competition may seem unequal, but small-scale tappers and brewers like Ovwiroro still hope to keep their local beverages alive.
"I have been doing this work for 30 years. I started in Ondo state, came to Edo and spent 10 years before coming to Sapele here where I have now spent 15 years," Ovwiroro told AFP inside a wooden shed, which also serves as a mill for the father of eight.
The alcoholic content of ogorogo is unknown, although one glass, say those who drink it, is enough to make you feel intoxicated.
Ovwiroro also claimed the drink, which is often infused with herbs, had medicinal properties although he offered no evidence.
Ovwiroro said that he boils palm wine over firewood and distils it to make ogorogo, letting it cool before pouring it into jerry cans.
But he admitted that the job was "strong" -- tough work -- adding that he usually climbs at least 30 trees everyday.
"I come here as early as 6:00 am every day. Most times, I don't go home. I sleep in this bush. At times, you will step on snakes. The work is not easy. I work every day. On Sundays, I don't go to church," he said.
"I won't allow my children to do the work because it is too strong." Ovwiroro wants the government to assist local tappers and brewers to expand their business, adding that the plantation from where he taps was on lease.
"I acquired this place last year. I pay 3,000 naira monthly to the community. I used to tap from another forest but the trees are no longer producing." Ovwiroro said the government should encourage investments in local gins.
And locals agree.
"This is what we take to clear all our sicknesses and diseases away," claimed Kingdown Arugbo, a 66-year-old businessman who said he had been taking the local speciality since he was born.