The high demand for agricultural products by processors and commodity traders across the country has created a lucrative business in local markets in Katsina State.
Our correspondent reports that young people are now selling their land and taking out bank loans to invest in the grain market.
Since last year, the value of agricultural products, ranging from corn, sorghum, beans and soybeans, has increased due to the destruction of agricultural land, insecurity and the growing demand for these cereals in the country.
According to the farmers who spoke to our correspondent, they have never had as much income as the income they have obtained during the last two production seasons.
Garba Isah, a local government farmer from Dandume, said many of their youngsters ventured into the grain market to earn a living.
“Since last year, our young people have discovered the opportunities offered by commodity markets. Commodity brokers are scrambling to find capital to invest, as some are giving away their plots of land or applying for a bank loan to get cash for the business,” he said.
Isah added that the development has created opportunities for young people in the markets, at least twice a week.
Our correspondent found that many traders and retired officials were stockpiling beans against the planting season as his bag could sell for N50,000 or more in the next six months, given its current price of N40,000 .
A bag of maize sold for 13,000 naira two years ago is now worth 24,000 naira, as are sorghum and millet. Rice (paddy) is N18,000 and soybeans were sold at N37,000 per 100 kg bag.
Alhaji Sani Adamu, a longtime international grain trader, said development had stalled and agriculture would continue to be a gold mine and would become the economic mainstay of Nigeria.
He said, “If you check the statistics, before the COVID-19 outbreak, the demand for corn in this country was around 18.5 million metric tons. Industrial demand for sorghum is also increasing rapidly in Nigeria due to growing awareness of its health benefits and government policy of high import prices.
Adamu added that the country’s growing population and the proliferation of poultry farms and other industries will continue to put pressure on the demand for agricultural products in local markets.
He called on the government to clear the forests for agricultural activities, as they are currently used as hiding places for bandits.
“Farmland is fragmenting due to inheritance and the search for shelter. Demand has driven up the price of farmland in that state. The million naira farm now produces just over 20 bags. The government should clear the hideouts of bandits and other miscreants for food production,” he said.
According to him, farm owners are now renting their land at exorbitant rates.
“Sometimes their only consideration is the market price of agricultural products, forgetting the cost of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, seeds and other inputs, as well as labor. Those without farms now find it difficult to access land for food crops. Everything has become very expensive and unaffordable,” Adamu lamented.