The country was awakened to the gloomy news that come January, we may be grappling with the additional problem of a famine to top off the economic recession we are currently facing. The fact that the piece of news came from the horse’s mouth, the Ministry of Agriculture means that it should be taken seriously.
Why and how did Nigeria get into this fix? For all intent and purposes, the weather has been favorable to the growing of crops. Add to this the fact that several people have returned to farming due to the recession and its associated problems, and it seems odd that the country is facing a famine.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media, Mr Garba Shehu, explained that the impending famine was due to to increased demand for Nigerian produce by foreign nations. “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 shortage of grains in Nigeria by January,” he said.
The current free market situation in place in the agricultural sector allows producers to sell to whomever they deem fit and according to Garba, “President Muhammadu Buhari is not in any way opposed to or intent on tampering with that.”
However, he believes that moral obligations should move producers to ensure that export is only allowed when domestic needs have been catered for. Dawanau market in Kano, Naigatari in Jigawa, Bama in Borno, and Ilela in Sokoto, as well as three other main markets in Kebbi State are main culprits with as many as 500 trucks of grains reportedly leaving Nigerian borders weekly.
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That Nigeria is experiencing this should not be not be much of a surprise, if trends are watched. Nigeria’s is Africa’s largest producer of crude oil and yet for several years, queues to access the product continue to occur at intervals. Nigeria with its vast military and para-military agencies remains the home to one of the world’s deadliest terrorist groups. Please, why is there always scarcity amidst plenty in Nigeria?