The Federal government through the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has again reiterated the commitment of government to avert famine in 2017.
He assured that with all the efforts on ground there was no danger of famine even as he highlighted the government’s plans to overcome the predicted famine in the country.
Ogbeh told Nigerians not to panic of the assumed famine next year, adding that the government will not allow it to happen.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, Ogbeh said “I want to put it to you quite clearly that there will be no danger of famine in the country because government will not allow that to happen and we are already taking steps to make sure that Nigerians doesn’t go to any horrible experience”.
He explained that “there has been panic over massive purchase of grains from many of the big grain producing states in some parts of the country, and this fear have been highlighted by the Emirs and Chiefs in the north who met with us on Tuesday last week and raised the same anxiety.
“It is true that for the first time in our history, we are witnessing an extraordinary purchase from Nigeria to West, North and Central Africa. This is a challenge which is good, it is good because farmers have market for their products and in that market, they are making money the way they have not made before.
“So, it is a good thing to happen even though the demand from our neighbors is putting pressure on the local supplies, we are still aware and confident that this is a market economy, we will not interfere with the trading, but we are putting in place sufficient mechanism to store enough in our silos, so there is no reason to panic”
Speaking on the measures taken to avert famine, Ogbeh said “We have 33 silo sites in the country with a total capacity of nearly 2.5 million tons of grains, and we are buying at a time when it is better to buy. “We have made arrangements with some governors to go back again and start planting even before Christmas, like millets, Maize, Sorghum, so that we can have second crop from now till April”.
He said this approach will be applied in agriculture so that farmers do not wait for the wet season before they will start planting, he stressed that food will be produced all years round through irrigation.
The Minister also said the government will embark on construction of dams and lakes throughout the country, so that there will be enough water to support irrigation for dry season farming.
Chief Ogbeh further said the government had secured 110 small scale rice mill that will be given to Cooperatives and rice millers across the country to enhance their milling capacity. He also said that another 12 millers will arrive by next year.
On the high prices of food stuffs in the market, the Minister said “the prices are high because the demand is high”.