Border: Nigerians may ignore jollof rice delicacy this Christmas

By Oluwaseun Sonde

Many Nigerian homes may have to do without their favourite jollof rice delicacy this Christmas, existing circumstances have shown.

The Nigerian special  delicacy, Jollof rice, which is majorly a mixture of rice, tomatoes and spices, among other ingredients may be found wanting in some homes this Christmas following the border closure which spurred a hike in price and scarcity of the commodity.

Jollof rice is practically one of the ceremonious meal far across Nigeria. The special spicing of rice grain to make jollof rice is popularly a dish loved by Nigerians and is particularly coveted by the poor at Christmas and other festive periods, when increased demand for its ingredients contributes to seasonal price rises.

The cost of imported rice, the staple ingredient in Jollof rice, has already almost doubled since the Buhari administration shut Nigeria’s borders with neighbouring Benin and Niger in August in a bid to curtail smuggling. Domestically produced grain prices are now up by 70%, said a report by Bloomberg reporters in Nigeria.

Nigerians express fear of missing jollof rice  Speaking with us, a source who gave his name as Mr. Adesina oluwatobiloba, stressed that his family will go for something cheaper to cook on Christmas day because the cost of rice and ingredient has increase beyond is capability.

“I do eat jollof rice every Christmas period but this time I won’t be able to go for rice because the price has increased beyond my power to purchase it for my family.” Another source who lamented the hike of the commodity described the border closure as an intentional act of wickedness to exploit the less privilege.

He mentioned that since the hike in price, rice has become an occasional meal in his family. “When you see what our government is doing, you know that they are not considerate. The effect of the border closure has much more effect on the poor.

“When you go to the houses of rich men, you still find them eating foreign rice all because they can purchase it but that is difficult for the poor”, he alleged.

Another source, Mr. Ayinla in his concern described the border closure as a wrongly timed policy, stating the Government should have waited till a time local rice production has reached a state of efficiency and proficiency in supply. A third issue is that border closures are not enough to stimulate sustained production growth or productivity increases.

Supporting private sector development requires more than just protection of domestic producers from imports. “It necessitates the provision of key public goods that help establish a conducive business environment and reduce transaction costs for firms.

Among other priorities, there is a need to ease access to credit, improve land tenure and land titling systems, ensure access to affordable and stable electricity and enhance connectivity across territories. Insulating domestic markets does not help to reduce the inefficiencies that cause transaction costs to spike. It only forces consumers to bear the burden of these costs.

In sum, while the border closure in Nigeria is having contrasted short-term impacts, it will not help to address the root causes of smuggling and the key constraints to accelerated productive transformation. In the meantime, it severely hurts the legal trade that is vital to livelihoods in local border economies such as the Seme, Owode or Dendi areas.

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