The price of food commodities has risen in Zamfara State following the increase in the activities of bandits across rural areas of the state, Daily Trust can report.
Daily Trust gathered that dealers of food items in the state have stopped going to the rural areas to purchase foodstuffs, thereby causing shortages in the urban areas.
The dealers have now resorted to going to the neighbouring states of Niger, Kaduna and Katsina to supply the items, a development that makes the price of commodities to be high.
Daily Trust findings revealed that a 25kg bag of Maize is being sold at N35,000, while a 40 measured size of rice bag stood at N88,000, N86,000 and N84,000 depending on the quality of the rice.
Malam Aliyu Bello, a retailer of foodstuffs at Yar Dole Market in the state metropolis, said depending on the quality of rice, a measure of rice is N2,400, N2,300, N2,200, N2,100 and N2,000.
Bello said a few months back, a measure of rice was between N1,700 and N1,750.
“I used to go to Magami Market every Friday to buy rice then, but because of the security challenge, I am no longer going there. Many dealers have stopped going to Magani. We only send money to some people that are residing there to buy the commodity for us and you know business cannot hold in this way,” he said.
He said another factor contributing to the soaring price of foodstuffs in the state was the difficulties the commercial drivers were facing in bringing the items from the few rural areas where traders managed to buy from the farmers.
He explained that the few drivers that were conveying the harvests to Gusau always came late, as according to him, they have to maneuver their ways in order to avoid the bandits.
“In the past, the drivers arrived at Gusau by 9am, but now they usually come around 2pm. The price of diesel is also another problem because drivers have increased their charges per bag due to the cost of diesel. We used to pay N500 per bag from Dandume in Katsina State before but now we pay between N800 and N1,000 per bag,” he added.
Chairman of Rice Sellers Association at Yar Dole market, Muhammad Yusuf, noted that transportation fares had been increased courtesy of the difficulties the drivers are facing in conveying the food items to Gusau.
Yusuf explained that if the government could provide security in the villages and towns producing large quantities of harvest, the price would drop. It was also learnt that a trip that would take a dealer two days to go to a village and buy harvests is now taking a week or two depending on the nature of bandits’ operation in the area.
Our correspondent gathered that areas like Dan-Gulbi, Dan-Sadau, Magami, Yar-Tasaha, Kango, Kurar Mota and Gobirawa are among the areas where dealers are facing difficulties in bringing crops from there. Malam Sulaiman Idri Yar-Tashar told Daily Trust only 20 per cent of the community of Yar-Tasha village was able to cultivate their farms this year, saying the situation has caused a serious shortage of farm produce in the area.
“I can confidently tell you that in the entire Maru Local Government, only one per cent of the residents harvest crops this year. People have deserted their towns and villages for their safety. The Dansadau axis alone can feed the whole Zamfara State if farmers are allowed to go to their farms peacefully.
“People are now spending days before they could transport their commodity to the city. We used to have stopovers at various points to avoid the bandits.
“Again, we cannot travel without escort by a combined team of soldiers, police and vigilantes. We must seek cover from security personnel before conveying our farm’s produce to Gusau, otherwise, bandits can strike at any time and seize the goods.
“For instance, traders that start their journey from Yar-Tasha village will have a stopover at Dangulbi and spend at least 2 days and then proceed. Others can spend between 5-7 days at Magami before proceeding with their journey.
Alhaji Yahaya Umar Soda, the chairman of the Grains Dealers Association in Gusau, said shortage of the grains was responsible for the recent increase in the price of the commodity.
Soda appealed to the government to come to the aid of the dealers of farm produce in the state, as according to him, no country can develop without improving business activities.
He, however, expressed optimism that the price would drop soon because the farmers are expecting a bumper harvest this year.