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Grain business suffers as CBN’s January deadline approaches

Businesses in some grain markets in Katsina State have been seriously affected as the deadline set by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for old…

Businesses in some grain markets in Katsina State have been seriously affected as the deadline set by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for old naira notes ends Tuesday.

Checks by our reporter revealed that most of the farmers in rural areas were not adequately sensitised about the policy.

Mansur Sani, a grain merchant in Dandume, said that as the deadline approached, most farmers without bank accounts halted supply of grains to the market to avoid being paid in old notes, a situation that is starving the market of assorted produce.

“As you can see, most of us and our agents are out to buy farm produce, but only few farmers supply the market with the goods. Their fear is that as the CBN’s deadline is fast approaching, they don’t want to be paid in old notes and be left struggling to change them in the banks,” he said.

Sani added that the situation had occasioned an increase in the prices of available produce in the market.

“Last week, we bought maize at N20,000, sorghum N18,000, soybeans N30,000, but today, because they are short in supply we are buying them at N23,000, N21,000 and N33,000 respectively,” Sani said.

Mani Gambo, a farmer in Dandume Local Government Area, said the action of some of the farmers was not in any way a protest but a tactical way of avoiding the traffic of people in banks.

“Many of us have no business with banks, and are not willing to engage in the process of changing the old naira notes; hence we suspended business in the markets until the new notes are available. Even those that are dealing with banks do not want to join long queues of customers seeking the new notes at this material time. Moreover, it is obvious that commercial banks do not have sufficient new notes to dispense,” Gambo said.

However, in Funtua, a semi urban town, the story was quiet different last Monday as both farmers and merchants transacted smoothly.

Hussaini Isah Funtua, a grain dealer, said there was fear of uncertainty among the farmers but their level of understanding of the policy was better than that of farmers in remote areas.

He said, “The issue is that there was no adequate sensitisation in rural areas, so most farmers were not aware of the validity period given by the CBN.

“Some merchants that are well informed about the policy are not helping matters as instead of sensitising farmers, they instill fear and hatred of the policy through misinformation.”

Funtua added that businesses could only continue properly after new naira notes are available in the markets.

When Daily Trust on Sunday visited Bakori grain market last Tuesday, both farm produce and buyers were scanty.

Umar Sani, a local rice miller, said some of them had suspended milling pending the release of new naira notes by commercial banks.

“Our customers are mostly from Sokoto and we have already informed them via phone that we suspended rice milling until after January 31, that is why you can see the rice section of the market is sparsely populated today.”

He added that because of the limited supply, a 100kg bag was sold at N68,000 instead of N60,000 it cost last week.

A grain broker in the market, Muhammadu Tarzana, said the absence of the commodity made its price fluctuate.

“Price of maize here started from N22,000 to N24,000, depending on quality. Millet has gone up to N28,000, and it is virtually absent in the market. Those supplying it from Dankama in this state and Potiskum in Yobe have held up till after January 31,” he said.

Tarzana called on the CBN to reconsider its timeline and move the deadline to at least one week for people to access the new notes with less difficulty.

Our reporter observed that the trend did not stop at grain markets as petty traders and shop owners in Danja, Funtua, Bakori and parts of Faskari were shying away from the old N1,000, N500, N200 notes as it remained only seven days for them to lose their value.