Hunger Looms as Sokoto Rice Farmers Flood Niger Republic Markets

by Ohepo Ohepo

Despite the Federal Government’s assurances of reducing market food prices, some grain marketers in Sokoto State, particularly rice traders, have started extensively exporting local rice to Niger Republic.

Investigations by Arewa PUNCH over a month in the state showed that many rice merchants now prefer exporting Nigerian local rice to the neighboring country due to favorable exchange rates.

A commercial driver involved in transporting the grain abroad, who spoke to Arewa PUNCH anonymously, shared that the motivation for this exportation strategy is to earn more money. He pointed out the significant depreciation of the Nigerian currency, highlighting the difference in rice prices between Sokoto and Niger Republic. In Sokoto, a plate of local rice costs between 3,000 and 3,200 naira, whereas in Niger, it can fetch around 5,500 naira or more.

He emphasized the importance of profit for traders, questioning why one would choose to sell locally when a more lucrative market is just across the border. The driver explained that the devaluation of the Nigerian currency has compelled them to seek better earnings through such opportunities.

He also mentioned that the ECOWAS ban on Niger Republic, which restricts the movement of goods, particularly foreign parboiled rice, has created a gap they are exploiting for quick export business.

Regarding the Nigeria-Niger Republic border closure, he indicated that it does not hinder their operations as they use unauthorized routes through the bush, bribing security agents in both countries to facilitate their passage.

He suggested that even without the border closure by ECOWAS or the Nigerian government, they would still prefer the bush paths over official border routes to avoid potential restrictions on their goods.

Arewa PUNCH noted that the ECOWAS directive to its member countries to close borders with Niger Republic has caused significant hardship, particularly affecting the food supply chain and the entry of foreign rice into Niger.

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