Border closure: South-East farmers, dealers ‘smiling to the bank’

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Rice producers and dealers in the South East Zone are smiling to the bank, relishing the impact of the Federal Government’s border closure on the production of the rice in the state.

The stakeholders said that the closure had motivated them to enhance their production capacities to meet local needs.

In Ebonyi, Mr Sunday Ituma, State Programme Coordinator (SPC) of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-assisted Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) said that the responses gotten from its beneficiaries were encouraging.

The development has made locally-produced rice to dominate the rice market in the country and it is hoped that farmers will meet the required local production for equilibrium between demand and supply.

“IFAD-VCDP will continue to encourage farmers with the provision of seedlings, agro-chemicals, adequate extension services, rural infrastructure among others to meet this demand,” he said.

In Anambra, local rice dealers in Awka, Anambra also said they were recording quick sales in the past one month due to Federal Government ban on importation of foreign rice.

Miss Chika Umenzekwe, a sales representative at Cooperative Society shop located at Aroma, Awka said they had been making good sales in recent weeks.

Before now, it used to take us more than two months to sell a truck load of rice, but suddenly we have been making appreciable sales in the last few weeks,” she said.

The Enugu State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Matthew Idu said that the border closure would boost local rice production, especially in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area (LGA) of the state.

Since the state joined the FADAMA project, government has found out that about six of the 17 LGAs in the state have arable land for rice cultivation in large quantity.

“The state government is, therefore, calling on residents to engage in rice farming in those areas with arable land and consultants, who are into training on how to cultivate rice, are available,’’ he said.

In Abia, Chief Dunlop Okoro, the former Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), described the closure of the country’s land border by the Federal Government against the importation of rice and other contraband goods as laudable and a welcome development.

Nigerians should desist from attacking the initiative and support the Federal Government by imbibing the habit of eating our indigenous food to boost local food production.

“On its part, Federal Government should pump more funds to the agricultural sector to enable the local rice farmers to increase their production capacity.”

Major rice dealers in Owerri, the Imo capital have blamed the inflated prices of the commodity on closure of the nation’s borders by the Federal Government.

Mrs Ifeoma Nwanne, a major dealer at the Relief market, Owerri lamented the closure of Nigeria’s borders adding that was a major cause of the hike in price of rice.

Christmas is almost here and customers have greater demand during this time of the year. Unfortunately, the prices of various bags of rice have skyrocketed and I think it’s because our borders were closed and importation is largely restricted,” she said.