At the moment, the Nigerian grains market is lucrative for merchants from neighbouring West Africa countries and others from Central and Northern parts of the continent. In this report, Daily Trust on Sunday takes a look at some of the issues that might put pressure on the nation’s drive to achieve food security and the way forward.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, along with the governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, raised alarm over the influx of grains merchants, particularly from the republics of Niger, Mali, Chad, Cameroon, Libya and Burkina Faso who buy grains in large quantities from Nigeria.
That position was on Tuesday reinforced by the Presidency when the Senior Special Assistant to President on Media, Dr. Shehu Garba, raised alarm over imminent food crisis because large quantities of grains are moved out of the country, stressing that if nothing is done, by January, the nation could begin to experience a food crisis.
Dr. Garba said the situation “if not addressed promptly, could lead to a shortage of grains in our country by January.”
The special assistant said the president has directed the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to present rapid response plan to fill the nation’s strategic grain reserves across the country because strategic food reserve is a first line of defence when such situation arises.
Grains market associations and farmers in Katsina State have decried how foreigners are flooding markets this year in search of farm produce.
One of the major markets which the foreigners frequent, at least twice a week, is Dandume grains market situated in the southern part of the state.
Alhaji Balarabe, sarkin kasuwa of Dandume, said the market depended on foreigners from Benin, Niger and Chad republics, who come with their trucks to buy farm produce in large quantities.
“Foreigners are major players in Dandume market; they come from Chad, Niger and Benin and buy varieties of produce ranging from maize, sorghum and soya beans on Saturdays and Sundays. Nigeriens only buy about30 trucks of produce each carrying 400 bags,” Alhaji Balarabe said.
He added that shortage of rainfall in some parts of Niger and Chad is a contributing factor in the increased demand now.
One of the merchants from Niger, Alhaji Mousa Kanta, said they have been buying farm produce from Nigerian markets for years and not only this year.
“Our business relationship with Nigerian markets date many years ago, so I don’t know why we are only noticed this year; perhaps because we are buying in a much larger quantity this year. This is as a result of the depreciating value of the Nigerian Naira, which makes the price of the produce cheap compared to the Nigerien currency,” said Mousa Kanta.