Cross River farmers rejoice as border closure continues

Eme Offiong, Calabar

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Cross River farmers in the rice and oil palm value chain are smiling to the bank due to the continued closure of Borders.

The farmers, who applauded President Muhammadu Buhari for enforcing the policy, told Voice of Nigeria in Calabar, that the impact has been positive.

They advised the Nigerian Government to sustain the implementation of its closed border policy.

Increased Demand
A rice farmer from Yala local government area in northern Cross River, Emmanuel Unah, said that the decision of President Buhari to close the border has created a viable demand and supply market as well as improved standards of living.

Unah, who label’s his rice ‘Unah Adaga Rice’ said there has been an increased demand for local rice and an addition to the cost of one bushel; we sell rice in bushels. This has improved our economy as local farmers. With the demand, we are making sure we add value to the quality of the rice by destoning and packing in different sizes to enhance its affordability”.

Speaking further on the quality of rice planted by the farmers, he said “we are planting what we call A4. These are long grains, which when harvested look exactly like foreign rice. We got this quality of seedlings from the Nigerian Government’s Anchor Borrowers Scheme implemented by the Central Bank. I earnestly wish the borders remain closed.”

Value addition
Another farmer from the southern district, Mrs. Ekaete Okon explained that she was generating better value for her produce, which was nonexistent before the policy came into being.

Mrs. Okon stated, “I can see the result of the closed border because the cost increased and people are looking for our rice. Before this time, I would harvest and store rather than sell. We were forced to sell at a loss, I almost lost hope until our dear President changed it for us”.

“This has boosted dry season farming, which will start in January. What we are selling now was harvested in November. I now have orders for my rice even before I go to the mill and at the mills, you have people waiting to buy over ten bags or more off you. The border should remain closed. But, after this period, the cost will definitely reduce,” she said.

Long Awaited
David Agabi, who is into oil palm farming, described the implementation of the policy as long awaited, “this is the best policy introduced by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. Before now, there were people, who take away our produce without due compensation to us farmers. But now, we have been getting greater benefits from our products”.

According to Agabi, “before now, people come buy off our products, process it and make so much from it. But since the closure a lot has changed. We now have clear-cut value placed on our products before we sell. The oil, the kennel, the kennel oil and even the chaff are processed in such a way that we have more value”.

Agabi, who is also a public analysist suggested, “I would prefer the borders remain shut for years. People developed a lot of sicknesses that were alien to us because of the things we were consuming. Nigeria became a dumping ground for things that other countries reject. So, for me this policy should continue until the issues are being addressed as they are supposed to be”.

The farmers suggested that the Nigerian government should expand its interventions in the various agricultural value chains under the Anchor Borrowers Scheme to enable existing farmers and other interested young people including women, participate in agriculture.

 

Confidence Okwuchi