Mr. Ismail Olawale, an agriculture expert, has called on Nigerian farmers to seize the opportunity of the border closure to build capacity for locally produced foods and other goods.

Olawale, a fellow at the Nigerian Agriculture and Extension Liaison Service (NAERLS), made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigerian (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos.

The expert said his agency was working extra time to keep local farmers abreast of the opportunities in the agriculture sector following the border closure.

“I think it is an opportune time we begin to look inward in value addition for Nigerian agriculture produce. Irrespective of how long or short the Nigerian borders are closed, it is a good lesson because it will give Nigerians in agriculture sector opportunities to research and find out they can do better.

“As a research institute with our activated National farmers’ helpline centres to give farmers adequate information, we will put in more efforts to enlighten farmers on the opportunities. We also have training and seminars that can increase the awareness levels of local farmers and improve their perception of the opportunities that abound in Nigeria following the border closure.

“We aim to breach the gap where these foreign products have an edge over Nigerian agriculture produce. The knowledge of this border closure can encourage local farmers to explore the opportunities in the market, sell their produce to Nigerians and be encouraged to do more,” the expert told NAN.

Olawale also called for improvement in the agriculture value chain to make smuggled imported agriculture goods less attractive to the Nigerian market.

“We need to do our homework to know how banned products were penetrating the market and were the preference of Nigerians before the border closure.

“For example, if we have a well-packaged Nigerian processed rice that comes in 50 kilogrammes and is on the high side, people will rather patronise imported rice that comes in smaller packages and is affordable.

“We need to look at the indices that make imported agriculture produce more attractive to the Nigerian market and then we begin to work in those areas for improvement. We need to build the Nigerian agriculture industry in terms of skill, capacity and also the market to become strong.

“We also want to equip Nigerian farmers to regularly supply improved and attractive prices of the locally produced agriculture produce either from the farms or in the markets,” Olawale said.