Some rice milers in Gombe State say they have recorded increased sales and patronage since the closure of the border by the Federal Government.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Federal Government shut borders with neighbouring countries of Benin Republic, Cameroun and Niger Republic since August.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on August 28 at the Seventh Tokyo International Conference for African Development in Japan said the closure was due to massive smuggling activities, especially of rice at the country’s borders.
A survey carried out by NAN correspondent revealed that many of the rice millers who had hitherto shut down have reopened while others formed themselves into clusters to process rice in large quantities.
According to them, the decision by the President to close the border remains the best for the agricultural sector as it has enhanced local processing of rice in large quantities.
Umar Na-Abu, the former Chairman, Rice Millers’ Association of Nigeria, Gombe State chapter told NAN that the closure was a good measure to boost employment and local production.
According to him, Nigeria has the capacity to feed itself.
“May God bless President Buhari for this initiative. We now supply rice to different parts of Nigeria, especially the South and there are more jobs here for everyone except you do not want to work.
“We have left this place before but today we have all returned and we mill over 10, 000 bags every day.
“I mill over 1, 200 bags per day now with my machines as against 50 before. I sell at different prices depending on their types.
“We sell for N13, 000, N14, 000 and N15, 000 per 50 kg. Now, we are taking a lot of youths off the streets,’’ he said.
Another miller, Abubakar Mohammed said that from the time the border was closed, his business had witnessed a lot of expansion and massive employment of youths.
“Before the closure, we do not work at all and when we come here to work, we just mill between 15 and 20 bags.
“But now we mill over 60 per day and we want to further expand.
“We see the call to close the border as the best agriculture-friendly decision ever taken in recent times. This is commendable. When President Buhari came on board in 2015, he helped the farmers,’’ he said.
Also speaking, Adamu Usman said the business of rice milling had witnessed a boom as more persons were now joining the business and there was no issue of competition because the market is available.
He called on the Federal Government to put up modalities to ensure that those who might want to undermine government’s effort were stopped.
Usman, however, urged the government to also look into the issue of power supply.
Alhaji Auwalu Abari, a rice distributor from Gombe said Nigeria had enough rice that could cater to the country’s needs even if borders were to remain closed for five years.
He said, “I am a rice distributor and I supply Lagos, Enugu, Aba, Port Harcourt, Oyo and many people are now calling me everywhere. This business is good and we are now doing it with pride.’’