Rice Millers Jubilate Over Closure of Nigeria – Benin Border

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Abakaliki Rice Mill traders have expressed their profound joy in the recent closure of the Nigeria- Benin Border as it has given boost their sales and has brought a cross section of buyers from different parts of the country, in the purchase of the Ebonyi Local Rice.

The Nigeria-Benin Border that has been closed recently due to the illegal smuggling of petroleum products, illegal migration, importation of arms and ammunition and smuggling of rice especially, from Republic of Benin to Nigeria through Niger Republic.

Due to this development, importation of foreign rice has been banned from the country, as citizens now consume locally produced rice.

While interviewing the buyers and sellers of Abakaliki Rice Mill, on their views over the recent closure of the Nigeria- Benin Border and the impact on their market, many of the buyers and sellers supported the continuous closure of the border.

One of the traders who plead anonymity told Citizen’s Advocate that Ebonyi Rice is regarded as one of the best rice that is freshly produced and cannot be compared to the rice they would have added chemical to preserve before importing it to Nigeria as foreign rice.

He said Ebonyi rice can stay up to 2 to 10 years and not get spoilt if stored in a cool dry place, because it is natural without chemicals. He added that there has been a massive patronage from buyers and therefore wishes that the border remains closed.

According to a rice destoner in the mill, Mr. Kelechi Chukwu said that the border closure is a good step taken by the federal government, because initially their local products including rice were not being patronized, even when Ebonyi has quality rice which they cultivate.

He also added that the local rice is more nutritious and healthier than the imported rice.

Mr. Kelechi further said that he has been attending to more customers across the various states in the country like Lagos, Delta, Bayelsa, Abuja, and others. Since the closure of the border, he there has seen high patronage.

He showed his gratitude to the president for closing the border, as he makes more money than before.

Speaking with one of the buyers, Mrs. Ngele Chinelo said that closure of the border has made the price of rice to increase in the market.

She said, “Looking around we can see so many buyers and sellers and a lot of vehicles loaded with Ebonyi Local Rice, ready for evacuation to their various destinations.

 

He said this will help to boost Ebonyi economy and the country at large.”

She also added that the high demand has led to a little increase in price which she sees as normal and that rice has no static price.

She said the last time she came to buy rice, she bought ‘306’ around N7,000 but the last one she bought the same ‘306’ at N6,000. She enjoys eating Ebonyi Rice and buys it for her personal consumption.

Another seller, an indegene of Ebonyi State, Mrs. Oyebuchi Nworie, told Citizen’s Advocate that it’s a good thing the border closed.

This is because it has encouraged the local farmers of Ebonyi State to go into rice cultivation and that she has recorded more sales than before and also wishes the border to remain closed.

According to Mr. Basil Emenike, a chartered accountant and economist with a banking experience of more than 12 years, who is also a buyer and distributor of the local Ebonyi Rice that travels from Lagos to Ebonyi for the purchase said that Nigerians are used to polished, well packaged and beautiful rice.

He said, “The fact is that Nigerians are used to polished, well packaged and beautiful rice that are inorganically produced and we have been consuming them, we have a comparative advantage in rice production which we have never explored economically.

“This should be our strength to give something to the world, but based on the policies and the lifestyle of Nigerians, we have never discovered the economic power of the market we have, so this sector of the economy can be able to take Nigeria to a higher level.”

“Abakaliki Rice is one of the best rice in West Africa, I have gone for rice sampling, I have tested Ghanaian, and other West Africa rice, Abakaliki and Ogoja rice seems to be the best rice anyone can consume as it is nutritious, healthy and natural; when turned to flour can be used to do many things. The border closure has opened up a direction for Nigerian to go into rice production fully.”

He further added that he is looking at the value chain, as he wants to get involved fully in rice cultivation, processing and distribution to the end users, as it has paved way for investors into the sector as there is a higher demand of the local rice.

Mr. Basil, said initially his customers who are the end users complained of the rice not being sweet and said the rice was sandy, but along the line, they got to like the rice as there is a machine that removes the sand and chaff. There has been higher demand from them as they call back daily, requesting for more since the border closure.

In conclusion, he said for any economy to realize themselves, they have to push their citizens to the wall in order to get the latent energy within them. And wishes the border should remain closed as it will help boost the economy, and increase the country’s Gross Domestic Production (GDP).

Chief Mrs. Agnes Nboke and indigenous seller was very happy while speaking with Citizen’s Advocate expressing her joy on the closure of the Nigeria Benin Border as it has brought sky-rocketing advantages to her market.

She said buyers from all parts of the country Onitsha, Akwa Ibom, Lagos and so on patronize them since the closure.

Mrs. Agnes further wishes the border to remain closed as there is a lot suffering and risk in rice cultivation and initially there was not much profit but now she have the hope of training her children in school comfortably and also hoping to build a house for herself and family soon.

Rice Millers

Speaking with the secretary of rice mill union in his office, Mr. Nwede Ogbonna, who told our reporters that the border closure has done more good to Ebonyi State Rice Mill as there is an increase in transaction as people across the country both far and near troop in to the mill.

He further described a situation where he believes a time is coming when there will be no space within the mill to pack cars as it will be filled with vehicles conveying the rice to different parts of the country.

All effort to speak with the chairman of the union proved abortive as he was not on seat as of the time of this report.

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