Border closure boosts local rice patronage

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Demand for local rice has risen sharply in Sokoto State following the partial closure of Nigeria’s border, a check by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reveals.

Nigeria partially closed its borders with Niger and Benin Republics to stem smuggling, cross border crimes and illicit arms deals among others.

Nigeria has intensified joint patrols involving its customs, immigration, DSS and other security agencies along the affected borders putting intense pressure on smugglers.

A check in Illela, Gwadabawa, Kware and Sokoto metropolis shows that traders of local rice are making brisk sales as the patronage increases.

A trader in Illela, Alhaji Garba Dankwanni, told NAN that the increase in the price of foreign rice has made consumers to revert to local rice.

“Price of foreign rice has increased to N1,000 per measure as 50 Kg bag of the commodity is being sold at above N18, 000 at present.

“The increase has led to consumers demanding locally produced rice with a stable price between N550 to N600 a measure.

“Farmers are now releasing the local rice into the market.

“In the past, the preference for foreign rice has affected the sales of local rice, but because of the stability in price, local rice is now in high demand, but am suspecting the price will increase very soon,’’he said.

Dankwanni said the price of foreign vegetable oil has also increased by N100 and N2000 respectively, as a bottle now sells at N400 from N330, while a 10 litter jerry can sells at N11, 000 from N9, 000 sold in the past.

Another trader in Illela market, Malam Halliru Yusuf, said apart from local rice prices of all other commodities have been on the increase since the closure of the borders.

He said the increase also affected household items.

Yusuf said local rice has maintained its old price of N550, N600 and N800 depending on the location and harvest history.

A trader in Lolo, Bagudo local government, who deals in seafood, turkey and chicken said on condition of anonymity that their prices are on the increase “because they are smuggled items and the exercise has made it difficult to replenish our stock.”

He said since most traders are running out of stock and don’t know how long the exercise would last, they have all increase the prices of their stocks.

He said a carton of hard type turkey that was selling at N9,000 is now N16,000 and the soft type is now selling between N13,500 and N14,000 from N7, 500.

He said a carton of croaker fish is now selling at N25, 000 as against N12, 000 or N15, 00 depending on the size and customer’s bargaining power.

The trader added that prices of other fishes like Titus, salmon or crabs and shrimps are on the increase too.

Meanwhile, Alhaji Muhammad Salah, the District Head of Kasagu, a border town in Bagudu local government area in Kebbi, has commended government for the measure.

He noted that since the partial border closure, traders who transact illegal businesses across the border are finding it very difficult to carry out their trade.

Salah however said no fewer that eight settlements in Kebbi share border and same language with their brethren in Benin and Niger Republics.

The district head said they all speak Dandi language, and pleaded for early opening of the border, as the exercise had affected farming and is putting pressure on local produce.

He said the border communities have interwoven relationship as Nigerians cultivate farms in Benin Republic while Beninous cultivate farms in Nigerian communities for long period.

“Crops have ripened for harvest and security teams had denied farmers access to bring their produce to markets,” he lamented.

He therefore urged the Federal Government to reopen the borders as soon as possible.

Malam Hassan Adamu, Councillor representing Lolo ward in Bagudo LG, called for adequate support for President Muhammadu Buhari to sustain such efforts.

He said the exercise would go a long way in actualising government policies on ensuring food security, check illegal migrants and activities of smugglers.

“Some people are using the border in making illicit gains hence they are dumping all sort of things or commodities through them into our country,” Adamu noted.

The Councillor called on neighboring countries to be in tune with Nigerian government policies if they want government to open the border.

According to him, Nigerians mostly in the rural areas have gone back to farming thereby saving the country huge sums of money which will otherwise have been expended on importing rice using scarce foreign reserves.

A Customs officer, who pleaded anonymity, explained that“the exercise is yielding results as some seizures have been made.

“These include drums of petroleum, bags of parboiled foreign rice, bags of fertilizer, vehicles, groundnut oils, tin tomatoes and other items, while some illegal aliens were apprehended.’’

He said Nigerians must be patriotic enough to support the government on its efforts to protect local production, and ensure food security.

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