BreakingNews 14/11/16: Presidency: Famine looms in Nigeria

[ Masterweb Reports: Isiaka Wakili reports ] - The Presidency has raised the alarm that Nigeria, currently Africa's largest producer of cereals and grains, risks famine from early next year following a huge demand in the global market targeting the nation's surplus production.
The Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said this while featuring on radio programme in Kano yesterday.

The presidential aide told Pyramid Radio that the huge demand for Nigeria's grains in the global market was creating "an excellent environment for the mindless export of Nigerian grains across our borders and unless this curtailed, Nigerian markets will be bereft of food by January next year."

He noted that the Ministry of Agriculture had advised Buhari 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 our country by January."

Shehu stated: "Over the past year, Providence has blessed Nigeria with a bountiful harvest of grains, more than enough to feed the country and to export to other countries. At present, there is a high demand for grains from Nigeria, from African countries as distant as Libya and Algeria, and from places as far away as Brazil.

"However, the Ministry of Agriculture has raised concerns about a massive rate of exportation, which could lead to a shortage of grains in Nigeria by January."

Shehu, who said Nigeria currently enjoys what he called a free market situation, stressed that "President Muhammadu Buhari is not in any way opposed to or intent on tampering with that."

He said exporters, on the other hand, also have a moral obligation to make their produce available to Nigerians who live within the country’s borders "to ensure that our citizens have access to food."

According to him, the Ministry of agricultuAe estimates that no fewer than 500 trucks laden with grain leave Nigerian markets every week headed for countries outside the borders.

He said the major markets involved in this exportation were the Dawanau Market in Kano, Naigatari Market in Jigawa, Bama Market in Borno and Ilela Market in Sokoto as well as three other main markets in Kebbi State.

He said President Buhari had on various occasions reiterated his administration's plan for Nigeria to become "a food-producing giant, self-sufficient to the point of depending very little on imported food. 

"This noble plan could easily be defeated by the pull of the foreign market if food continues to leave our shores to feed people elsewhere.  If care is not taken, Nigeria could face a famine by January," he stressed.

"Building our country into the edifice we envision it to be will require sacrifice and strategy from every single Nigerian. Let us remember that charity begins at home."

On what the government is doing to avert the frightening situation, Shehu said Buhari had asked the Ministry of Agriculture to present a quick plan for the purchase of surplus grains to be stored in warehouses across the country to save for the rainy day.

He said the president, however, stressed the need for moral pressure on exporters by traditional and religious authorities to curtail the depletion of the home market.
*Photo Caption - President Muhammadu Buhari
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