The rising cost and scarcity of chukwi, a cheese made from camel or cow milk and much popular in several states in northern Nigeria, can be largely ascribed to the Nigeria-Niger border closure. This has restricted the importation of this sought-after delicacy from Niger Republic, with only a limited quantity being produced within northern Nigeria. Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano, and Jigawa, are states where this local delicacy is frequently consumed given its abundance in protein, calcium, and fat content.
According to Hajara Idris, a dietician at the Federal Teaching Hospital Katsina, the delicacy is a beneficial dietary choice for individuals aiming to increase their weight. It contains essential components that promote bone growth and enhance dental strength, making it particularly advantageous for those seeking weight gain. She mentioned that it is highly advisable for kids aged 15 and below. The present scenario portrays a slow vanishing of this opulent delicacy due to the enforced border closure. This action is a result of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposing sanctions on Niger Republic, consequent to a military coup endured by the country.
Numerous chukwi merchants have become jobless.
Moreover, the traders said the increasing production costs and inflation, combined with the persistent devaluation of the naira, have also contributed to the scarcity. Consequently, the price of this item has soared, making it unaffordable for the average person. Ismail Ibrahim, a chukwi dealer based in Katsina State, concurred with the notion that the product’s scarcity has intensified due to the border closure and the economic hardships experienced by both nations as a result of sanctions imposed on Niger Republic. Ibrahim urged the government to concentrate on creating employment opportunities, offering capital support, and establishing a favorable business climate, particularly in states that share borders.
Bashir Umar, another chukwi trader, lamented the persisting depreciation of the naira, saying that numerous business associates have become disheartened as the devalued Nigerian currency fails to uphold their trade. The cheese processing and production industry involves a vast network of individuals, spanning across hundreds of people in its value chain. In light of its dwindling prosperity, numerous traders of the cheese have become jobless; a predicament that poses a risk to both their means of survival and the economic connection between Nigeria and Niger Republic.
Banditry have compelled Fulani herders to flee their territories.
Traders also expressed distress over the exorbitant demands and arduous hurdles encountered when traversing the border to supply the cheese, a beloved product among Nigerian clientele. As inflation continues to surge, customers fear the impending collapse of small enterprises in Nigeria, jeopardizing the very sustenance of the people and posing a potential security hazard to the nation. In previous times, regions such as Jibia, Kaita, Batsari, Safana, Danmusa, Kankara, and Sabuwa local government areas were known to have domestic production of chukwi, as stated by Aliyu Abdullahi Yamadi, a veterinary doctor.
Compounding the situation, the prevailing banditry insurgents have compelled numerous Fulani herders to flee their previous territories and seek refuge in comparatively more secure regions within the country. Apart from chukwi, additional necessities like milk, fura, nono, and condensed cow milk have also witnessed a scarcity within these communities as herders are migrating in significant numbers to elude the prevailing insecurity. As a result, regions once flourishing with chukwi production now lie abandoned and desolate.
Financial strain forced many chukwi traders out of business.
A multitude of chukwi traders are currently experiencing financial strain, forcing them to exit the business without any viable alternatives for sustenance. Alhaji Hassan Kuraye, the chairman of the socio-cultural Fulani Association in Katsina State, known as Miyetti Allah Kautal Höre, proposed that the government should promotes the production of the cheese in Katsina as a means to foster ranching in northern Nigeria. The speaker emphasized that this particular choice stands as the most feasible solution for the local cattle industry and dairy manufacturing, which holds significant prominence in the area.