The presidency has warned that Nigeria may likely be facing a shortage of food by January 2017 due to a huge demand in the global market – targeting the country’s surplus production.
The grim forecast was brought to light by Malam Garba Shehu, the senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity on Monday during a radio interview in Kano state.
Shehu told Pyramid radio that:
“A huge demand for our grains in the global market is creating an excellent environment for the mindless export of Nigerian grains across our borders and unless this is curtailed, Nigerian markets will be bereft of food by January next year.”
“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.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is not in any way opposed to or intent on tampering with that. On the other hand, exporters also have a moral obligation to make their produce available to Nigerians who live within our country’s borders, to ensure that our citizens have access to food.”
He quoted the Ministry of Agriculture as estimating that no fewer than 500 trucks loaded with grain leave Nigerian markets every week.
“The major markets involved in this exportation are: the Dawanau market in Kano, Naigatari in Jigawa, Bama in Borno, and Ilela in Sokoto, as well as three other main markets in Kebbi state.”
The spokesman further explained that President Buhari had on various occasions reiterated his 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,” Mr. Shehu added on the radio programme.