Why prices of farm produce are stagnant in Katsina

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Lingering insecurity and border closure have forced market prices of farm produce, particularly cereals in Katsina State, to remain stagnant, Daily Trust on Sunday can report.

Grain dealers said their businesses relied mainly on international markets in Chad, Cameroon and Niger Republic; hence it is being affected by the closure of Nigeria’s land borders. The dealers said they could no longer freely transport their goods outside the country.

One of the dealers at Dandume market, Zaharaddeen Ahmed, said most grains produced in Nigeria ended up in local markets at cheap prices as they find it hard to transport same to neighbouring countries.

“We are actually restricted to our local markets. Merchants from neighbouring countries hardly come here for purchases, and when some of them come, they purchase few goods, unlike what obtained in previous years. The situation has seriously affected our businesses,’’ Ahmed said.

He added that the development had not only affected the dealers but also the farmers, who were aspiring to sell their produce at a good price so that they could go back to their farms in the next season and reproduce without much constraint.

Another dealer at Sheme market, Danladi Ayuba, said besides the issue of border closure, the lingering insecurity bedeviling the North had seriously hampered free movement of goods from one state to another.

“The issue of insecurity in the North-East, including pockets of kidnapping, cattle rustling and banditry, has restricted the free flow of grains from one state or market to another. People are scared as those kidnappers target mostly businessmen,” Danladi Ayuba said.

He said the unfortunate situation had prompted the piling up of grains in areas they were mostly produced.

“If you go to Dandume, Sheme, Sabuwa, Funtua, Kafur and Bakori markets, maize, sorghum and beans are relatively cheap because they are largely produced in the area and merchants from far places are not coming like before. Similarly, if you go to Dankama, Charanchi, Mai’aduwa and Batsari, millet and beans are cheaper than other markets in the state,’’ he noted.

Danladi further said inadequate processing firms to take care of the surplus grains and create numerous value chains of the various produce in the state has also been a source of concern.

Daily Trust on Sunday went round some of the markets and discovered that merchants buying maize and sorghum were mainly from chicken feeds companies, Cadbury and breweries.

A bag of best maize variety was sold at only N8,800, that of sorghum was N7,200, millet and beans were sold at N10,500 each.

Farmers were expecting the prices to significantly appreciate at the end of February, but in some cases, the price slides, especially that of beans that was sold at N11,500.

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