Minister Audu Ogbeh: Nigeria Has Enough Food Reserve To Address Shortages In 2018

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The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, said on Sunday that the ministry had stocked enough food to address possible shortages in some states in 2018.

He made the disclosure in Katsina while speaking at the Joint International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)/Federal Government 2nd Supervision Mission for Climate Change, Adaptation and Agribusiness Support Forum.

Mr. Audu Ogbeh was represented at the event by his Senior Technical Adviser, Auta Appeh.

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He said:

“Some states in North-east and other parts of the country will likely experience low agricultural yield in 2018 due to climate change and weather issues.

‘’However, starvation is out of the issue, I can assure you that we have reserved enough food for them through our food security program”.

The minister advised farmers to refrain from indiscriminate felling of trees to preserve the environment.

Mr. Ogbeh said that cutting down trees exposes soil to desertification, erosion and other effects of climate change that have negative impact on the environment.

According to the minister, statistics had put the rate of desert encroachment in Nigeria at about 12 miles per annum. “So, the effects can be felt everywhere, for us to address the problem, all hands must be on deck”, he added.

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Food and Agricultural Organisation had predicted low agricultural yield in some states in the country due to late commencement of rains in 2018.

Meanwhile, Audu Ogbeh, while addressing State House reporters after last weeks’s cabinet meeting, disclosed that the country was losing $5 billion to smuggling annually.

According to Ogbeh, the government had to tackle smuggling as it was compromising the progress made in the production of grains.

He said:

“That was why the president had to say yesterday (during the 2018 budget presentation at National Assembly) that we will come down hard on activities of smugglers because they are doing us a lot of damage.

“In fact, the World Bank says that they are costing us $5 billion worth of loss per annum. We keep fighting, little here, a little there. We’ll get there.

“I can give you some figures. Between September 2015 and now, rice importation through the ports dropped from 644,131 tons to 20,000 tons in September this year, which means that by the end of this year to the early part of next year we can literally say we are closed to total self-sufficiency in rice.

“On the other hand, in Republic of Benin, rice importation has increased to 1.33 million tons because they don’t eat parboiled rice, they eat white rice.

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The minister also stated: “So every grain of rice landing there is heading for Nigeria through smuggling and some of it also comes in through Niger Republic. These are issues to deal with because we want local rice production to meet our needs and we are creating jobs.

“There are at least 12.2 million farmers in the country now and they are enjoying life the way they haven’t before. So these are the issues we raised today.”