Nigerian customs have warned supermarkets and shops in some parts of the country to stop patronizing foreign rice and other prohibited goods.
“In our endeavor to suppress smuggling, the Nigerian customs Kano / Jigawa area considered it appropriate to write and look for your cooperation to stop patronizing foreign rice and other prohibited items in your supermarket / stores to prevent they are closed by customs officials, “Kano / Jigawa area controller, Ahmed Nasir, said in a statement.
This warning comes months after the Nigerian government ordered the land borders to close.
Nigeria closed all its land borders two months ago without warning on 21 August to tackle smuggling, but the unprecedented movement has implications for trade in the region.
The busy borders have come to a standstill, with goods rotting and rows of trucks waiting for checkpoints in the hope that the intersections will open again, but hope is already flashing.
Despite the ban, foreign rice still saturates the Nigerian market.
Although customs said Nigeria won by the closure, the prices of food staples have risen sharply and legitimate businesses are caught in the crossfire.
The country’s inflation has also risen since August.
The government says that border closures will stimulate local food production. But rice needs time to grow, harvest, process and sell, and the country’s agricultural industry may not be able to keep up with the huge increase in demand.
“We are not yet ready to close the border because we have to invest years in farmers so that they can harvest enough for Nigeria,” said Ekpo Ain, a rice trader on the Sura market in Lagos.