The Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has given Nigerians the assurance that the Federal Government is working tirelessly to prevent any imminent famine in 2017.
Recall that Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, in an interview with Pyramid Radio in Kano last week, said that aggressive exportation of grains may lead to famine in the country starting from January 2017.
Shehu was reported to have said:
“Huge demand for our grains in the global market is creating an excellent environment for the mindless export of Nigerian grains across our borders and unless this is curtailed, Nigerian markets will be bereft of food by January next year.”
The presidential spokesman also said the Ministry of Agriculture had advised the President on the need to draw the attention of all Nigerians to this issue which, if not addressed promptly, could lead to a shortage of grains in the country by January.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja, the nation’s capital at the weekend, the minister lamented that agriculture had been abandoned by the Nigerian elite in the past five years following the discovery of oil, blaming the development for the present food shortage in the country.
Chief Ogbeh further mentioned urban migration as one of the reasons for the neglect of agriculture among Nigerians, especially the youth, adding that the time has come for the youths to engage aggressively in agriculture.
According to him, food sufficiency and security had in the last one year been ensured by the Ministry of Agriculture through a strict implementation of government policies and programmes.
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“We came in a year ago; precisely on 15 November 2015. And ever since then, we have continued the push for food sufficiency. The first step we took was to inform the world that there would be no policy somersault. And we have kept to that!
“So we decided to widen and deepen existing policies and programmes for sustainable development.”
The Agriculture minister went ahead to point out that the current shortfall in food supply is as a result of the demand for grains by neighbouring countries, adding that this has given rise to an increase in the population making demands for grains by additional 180 million.
“It is a bit of difficulty for us here, because we are not yet producing as much grains as is required to meet the feeding needs of the country. But we cannot ban exports because of ECOWAS Treaty that goods produced in Africa can move freely.”