The federal government has raised the alarm over the outbreak of quelea birds, locust and grasshoppers in farms in some frontline states.
The minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, raised the alarm while brainstorming on strategies to curtail the menace with 21 representatives of states in Abuja yesterday.
The states so far affected include Jigawa, Gombe, Bauchi,Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Yobe, Borno, Adamawa, Katsina,Taraba and Kano
According to Chief Ogbeh, “There is warning we have received that grasshoppers and quelea birds are massing up in Niger Republic from where they normally attack us in Nigeria.
“As you know and through efforts we are making,especially in the northern parts, we also know how dangerous quelea birds can be and locusts,if they arrive,within hours and days they wipe out everything that our farmers have put on the field.
“Now the price of food is very high today and Nigerians are very troubled,they speak on the phones,televisions and write on Newspapers that they are hungry and want the situation resolved”
He however assured that “With the efforts in the state we are approaching the promise land.In another cropping season after this harvest we shouldn’t have severe problem of food.
“We may have those problems if we allow the locusts to arrive here,so the reason for this meeting is for us to design a strategy very quickly to attack the locust not even within the Nigerian territory but in Niger and for us to be on the lookout, ” he said.
The minister assured they had been in communication with the Niger/Nigerian commission to see what can be done immediately to ensure the birds do not arrive.
“Now I am told the Niger Republic has aircrafts,we use to have some,but now we use private sector service providers,we have chemicals which we can deploy so that we can begin by attacking this menace before any locusts arrives on our shores,because once they get in,its very difficult to control them , within hours they can do terrible damage to any farm and once they come until they finish your crops,they don’t go back”
The Minister also said”We must also buy motorised sprayer in very large numbers and make available to the states.”
Chief Ogbeh also raised the alarm on army worms pest which he said “were attacking maize and also stressed the need for farmers to be on the lookout for the resurgence of the avian flu,stressing the need for urgent control measures”.
He warned states against the use of 15/15 fertilizers,saying “they were not good for use on any soil in Nigeria”
Other participants called for aerial spraying of chemicals to fight against the army worms,coordinated surveillance of the menace among others.