FG considers border closure to handle food shortfall

The federal government, FG, is considering closing the country’s borders again to curb the torrent of unauthorized exports and food smuggling.

The goal is to provide meals for Nigerians.

Agriculture and Food Security Minister Abubakar Kyari made this remark while answering questions from the Senate Joint Committee on Banking, Insurance, and Other Financial Institutions, Finance, and National Planning about attempts to alleviate the country’s economic difficulties.

He stated that, while the government was doing everything it could to reduce the high cost of food, the porous nature of the borders made food security problematic.

Kyari said: “What we are faced with today is the undocumented exports of food to our neighboring countries. Today one CFA is N2.50 that is to say 100 Cefas is 2,200. That used to be N400 some few years ago.

“When you look at our neighboring countries, all four neighboring countries around us, the CFA is a hard currency, and because of the devaluation of the Naira, our food is the cheapest round the neighborhood.

“So you find a lot of undocumented exports and smuggling across our porous borders to these neighboring countries.

“In addition, the other angle that we have over the period is the unavailability of foreign exchange.

“A lot of investors, be they Indians, Chinese or Turkish that are operating in this country, buy our crops that are sought after outside, like soya beans and sesame seed, and buy them at exorbitant price just to earn foreign exchange.

“Then they go outside there to earn foreign exchange and the worst part is that most of these monies are not repatriated back to us.

“Export is a good thing for us, but when you don’t earn the foreign exchange and it is not repatriated back to us and government doesn’t have any income from it, I am sorry, that is not a good sign.

“So what we are trying to do here is we are trying to ramp up production.

“I think it is an issue of economics between supply and demand, but unfortunately, we have to see how we can secure food for our 230 million citizens and at the same time, if this economic situation continues, then you have to seal up the borders which is against the ECOWAS protocol or produce for the whole of West Africa.

“That is the unfortunate thing, but if we can secure the land and have farmers go back to the farm, I am sure we can do it.

“We have 70 million hectares of land available in Nigeria. So, these are the challenges that we find ourselves in, but I am happy we will soon roll out between the next eight to 10 days, with the help of the President and the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, we want to support the farmers for the dry season farming.”

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