Border closure: Good for agric. sector – Expert

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Border closure: Good for agric. sector – Expert

An Agricultural expert, Mr Ismail Olawale has said the closure of Nigeria`s borders will engender the development of the nation`s agricultural sector.

Olawale, a fellow at the Nigerian Agriculture and Extension Liaison Service (NAERLS) expressed the view in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Lagos.

He said that the closure of the country’s borders would boost the consumption of locally produced foods thereby increasing the earnings of farmers.

The expert said that the expanding market for local foods would result in the emergence of more agriprenuers, which would result in improved agricultural production.

“The closure of the borders against banned goods will encourage the emergence of small cottage industry in Nigeria’s agricultural sector.

“Another positive consequence of the border closure is that it will allow many Nigerians that have the capital and interest in agriculture to start thinking inward on how they can develop local cottage industries.

“The closure of the borders will also encourage the emergence of more agriprenuers in the country while also helping to increase the income of local farmers, whose products before now were in stiff competition with the imported goods,” he said.

Olawale however urged farmers and agri-producers to do more in the improvement of agricultural value chain in the country.

“A major problem plaguing our agricultural sector is in storage and processing of agricultural produce. For instance, in preserving produce like tomatoes or processing poultry produce, we are not that strong.

“Some of these banned products have competitive advantage over Nigeria`s industrial efforts in those areas.

“Local farmers will also need to double their efforts, especially in finishing agro-produce and improving the value chain.

“If we do our homework well, even when the borders are eventually opened, smuggling will become less attractive.

“Thus, Nigerian agri-produce that have captured the market in terms of prices, quality and packaging will be more attractive than the smuggled produce,” Olawale said.

The expert also called for improved packaging of locally produced agro-produce to attract more Nigerian patronages.

“The major reason why the smuggling of food items like rice, tin tomatoes, frozen poultry, etc, because the alternative produce in Nigeria are not as attractive in terms of prices and packaging.

“For instance, most Nigerians will not want to go through the stress of picking stones from locally produced rice when they can opt for smuggled polished rice.

“Most people will also patronise foreign vegetable oils than the locally produced vegetable oil because of the unattractive way in which latter is being packaged locally.

“Hence local farmers and processors need to seize the opportunity of the border closure to improve on the value chain of our agric produce.

“This is the time for Nigerians to begin to look inwards in improving our agriculture value chain. We must build the input, skill and capacity for Nigerian agricultural produce,” Olawale said.