Federal government says Nigeria not at risk of famine, advises against panic buying

The Federal Government has dispelled fears that the country is at risk of an impending famine, disclosing that adequate measures have already been taken to avert a possible outbreak of famine in the country.
It disclosed that security measures have been adopted to check violent attacks on farmers in some parts of the country, including engaging the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC.
Recall that the Presidency had last month warned that Nigeria risks famine from early next year  following a huge demand in the global market that is targeting the country's surplus production.
But the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, while speaking at a panel discussion and press conference at the 11th African Economic Conference, AEC, said "We are not in danger on famine" and advised Nigerians against engaging in panic buying or stockpiling of food items.
At the conference themed: 'Feed Africa: Towards Agro-Allied Industrialisation for Inclusive Growth' jointly organised by the African Development Bank, AfDB, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, ECA, and the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, he disclosed that the government was encouraging the growing of staples such as rice all-year-round to ensure the availability of food at all times.
The minister stated that although some neighbouring African countries were coming to the country to buy grains, government was not going to adopt any policy of blocking such trade, but had decided to encourage more participation in mass production.
He advised Nigerians against panic buying and stockpiling of food items, stating that government's approach to averting famine was also to motivate Nigerians to feed themselves by going into farming as well as drastically cutting down wastages.
Ogbeh disclosed that the government had also acquired 33 silos to store grains across the country while about 110 milling facilities were being procured for farmers at about 40 per cent discount.
He said because of the foreign exchange challenges, the milling facilities were procured for the rice farmers and would be given to them through cooperatives with repayment period of five years.
On efforts to check attacks on farmers, he admitted that the problem was actually a serious one, noting that the government was already collaborating with the NSCDC to check the menace.
Ogbeh, who said since the issue bordered on security, he would not divulge the details of the measures being put in place to check incidents of attacks on farmers, disclosed that something was being done even though the measures may not presently cover the entire country.
Lamenting the neglect which the agricultural sector has suffered in the past decades, he blamed the elite for the development, regretting that a sector that showed enormous promise in the First Republic was relegated to the background in preference for imported items.
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