Ahead of the 2019 World Food Day on October 16, 2019, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Nanono, Monday, disclosed that Nigeria is producing enough food and no hunger in the country.
Nanono stated this during a media briefing on the forthcoming 2019 World Food Day alongside the Minister of State for Agriculture, Mustapha Shehuri, including the Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO, and officials of the ministry.
He said: “I think we are producing enough to feed ourselves. I think there is no hunger in Nigeria, there is good inconveniences, when people talk about hunger in this government I just laugh.
“But it is possible that people are unable to have three square meals. When you take into consideration Nigeria is a buffer zone for migration for all of the West African sub-region.
“The migration of our people in west Africa sub-region to other countries would have even doubled if it was not providing the right amount of food. The policy of the government is to feed ourselves. I think when the government came out with a policy on rice, most people were uneasy because they were used to importing foreign rice.
“Most of our neighbours became a dumping ground for some of this expired rice smuggled into this country. That is the basis for the closure of the border and I think Nigeria tried to make these neighboring countries understand our predicament but to no avail. So the decision was taken to close the border in order to sanitize those stakeholders.
He also disclosed that “About last week one of the largest producers of Nigerian rice came to my office and while we were discussing he said before the policy was announced he had about 600, 000 tonnes of Nigerian produced rice in his warehouse but within a week the border closure came into effect, 50 per cent of the stock in his warehouse was sold and I can tell you the farmers are smiling now because they are getting better price for the rice.
“With the recent border closure, the Nigerian Customs will double their revenue because importers are forced to go through the ports. That is the reality of the situation. If we allow this to continue who is going to lose? It is us who will lose.”
He further stated that “So long as this country bordering us will not respect Nigerian stand on food importation the borders will remain closed.”
On the issue of wheat importation and no self-sufficiency insight, the Minister described the situation as politics.
“The politics of wheat and if people decide to stop eating bread and how many people are going to die without making bread from wheat? Because general breakfast in the North is a pap, the South is yam. Bread is just an attachment and not the main meal of breakfast.
“We call wheat and wheat. We establish industries and wheat processing mills with a Mexican or Canadian farmer in mind and their cost of production is so low. Here our overhead costs are so huge so you cannot produce local wheat and compete with these mighty producers.
“In 1984, importation of wheat was factored in as banned, and Kano produced over 480, 000 tonnes of wheat and had it been it continued the issue of importation of wheat would have been in the past. To be honest with you the main thing is bread, although there is cake and other things, these are elitist kind of products, and these are things we can do away with”, he said.
However, explaining why Nigerian agricultural products are rejected abroad described the situation as a big problem.
“Marketing our Agric produce to the world is a big problem. One example is this; Nigeria is one of the largest producers of hibiscus they call zobo. Mexico used to be the largest buyers of our hibiscus but then people were adulterating and they stopped buying hibiscus from us. The Malians are now buying our hibiscus and maybe the grade one.
The minister blamed the cause of rejection on relevant inspection authorities.
“Who is the cause of the problem? It is our people and our inspectors for exporting goods. Recently, they have banned the importation of red beans from this country that is not arising from adulteration but from the wrong application of chemicals and fertilizer. So the quantum inside the red beans is high and that it is how it was banned.
He said he has two solutions to the problem, “What I am thinking is two options. Direct our Quarantine Service on application. Most of the grains including sesame seeds and hibiscus are marketed through the informal markets and nearly 75 per cent.
“We are going into discussions with the SGS to search for our exports. SGS is known world inspectors of goods and services that are being imported or exported”, he added.
On the issue of balance diet and overweight, part of the problem of overweight is not necessary because of the issue of balance diet I think some of us need to engage more in exercise. I am not about to advice people on the food they will eat to improve their health and lose weight, I know this goes along with education and education will help us overcome this challenge.
In this country, it’s fairly cheap to buy food, where income from it’s less than a dollar, so Nigeria is a position to feed ourselves as also ..cheap food in this country. I have been on tour for two days to Borno and Bauchi state and from the reports that I have seen, there will be a bumper harvest. There were some problems of flood in certain areas like Borno and part of Yobe and Adamawa state that inflicted heavy damage on available crops but I think those parts of the country with surplus will make up for those parts with a deficit. Nigeria will come to a stage where they will feed ourselves and extend our hands to our neighbors and I’m hoping that if trans Sahara rail that’s is being considered, food can easily be moved from places of surplus area.