Despite daily increase in prices of commodities in the country, farmers, under the auspices of Agricultural Promotion Organisation of Nigeria (APON), have called for sustenance of boarder closure for 10 years.
The association said the extension of the border closure would encourage, among others, local rice production and increase revenue generation.
At a solidarity rally in support of the border closure at the weekend in Abuja, the farmers said if border policy remained for 10 years, rice production would turn around the country’s agricultural sector of the economy.
With solidarity songs also displayed placards in inscriptions: “Border closure, 80 percent gain, 20 percent loss. Carry go PMB.”, Land border closure; we demand continuity for 10 years; Agric producers say yes to border closure”.
President of the association, Comrade Bashiru Alhassan, while addressing the rally, said they were now producing and making gains in the produce.
“We are happy with the closure of the land border. Farmers now make sales with a lot of products produce and consume by Nigerians. We are here to commend President Muhammadu Buhari for the great achievements.
“We are here to show solidarity with the government and to inform them that the border should remain closed for 10 years”.
Alhassan said there was no longer importation of rice into the country and communities were now producing rice in tones for local consumption and exportation to nearby neighbouring countries.
“Not only rice, cassava and other agricultural products are now being produce in large quantities as a result of the border closure. All the agricultural associations are ready to continue to support the Buhari’s government,” Alhassan added.
Representative of Rice Farmers Association, who is also the chairman Board of Trustees, Agriculture Promotion Organization of Nigeria Comrade Akortsaha Aondohembafan, said the local rice was cheaper and more nutritious than foreign rice.
He said the border closure had stop smuggling and argued that with the reduction in crude oil price at the international market, agricultural produce would help the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“With this closure, there is increase in revenue because local farmers are doing well”, he said and commended the Nigeria Customs Services (NCS) Comptroller-General, Hameed Ali for the initiative.
Recall that although with initial resistance, some Nigerians had kicked against border closure in the guise that prices of commodities would skyrocket.
Closure Gets More Support
One of those prominent Nigerians, who stood by the Federal Government action is the Kwara state Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.
AbdulRazaq had hailed the border closure policy, saying regional economic agreements should not be an excuse to dump goods on or compromise the security of the country.
He assured that Kwara state in particular, would continue to support the government policy, including offering necessary supports to the joint security architecture mandated to enforce what the Federal Government said was necessary to check illegal trade, proliferation of small arms and light weapons, and cross border crimes in Nigeria.
“Despite several international agreements Nigeria has entered into, our borders need to be properly secured so that the country does not become a dumping ground for all manners of foreign goods”, AbdulRazaq had said in Ilorin, when a delegation of the Joint Border Operations Drill, North Central Zone, visited him.
Prices of Commodities Soar Daily
Meanwhile, DAILY ASSET monitoring of cost of stable food at the weekend, showed that prices of food items were increasing in daily basis.
At Garki Market, a bag of 50 kilogramme rice, hitherto sold at N9, 500 before the border closure, had risen to N22, 500, just as the price increased to N17, 000 to N18, 000 at the border.
For instance, the Lagos and Kebbi rice, known as Lake Rice, has turned to ‘essential commodity,’ with cost increasing by 22 per cent. Before now, a bag of Lake Rice was sold at N13,500 and a half-bag was N6,500. Presently, a bag costs N16,500, while half a bag goes for N8,000.
However, the price of a 50kg bag of foreign rice has increased by 52 per cent to N22,000 from previous N14,500. For vegetable oil and palm oil the increase is 22 per cent, as 5-litre keg of vegetable oil has moved from N1,800 to N2,200, while a five-litres keg of palm oil has also increased from N1,800 to N2,200 in the market.
Frozen poultry is the most affected in Lagos, as a kilogramme of frozen chicken, which sold for N1,200, now costs N1,600, while a kilogramme of frozen turkey now sells at N1,700. Also, a carton of frozen turkey costs N15,000; one carton of frozen ‘orobo’ chicken, N14,000, while a carton of Nigerian chicken costs N11,500.
Presently, at Mile 12 Market, a basket of tomatoes now costs between N7,000 and N8,000 as against the previous value of N4,000 to N5,000, and the price of pepper has also gone up.
Findings in states where Nigeria shares borders with other countries show that the prices of rice, poultry products, vegetable oil, sugar, beans and even fairly used cloths have risen tremendously.
Although the Federal Government had been encouraging Nigerians to consume local rice to boast local farming, not many local rice are suitable for consumption as a number are said to be sandy.