By Cecilia Ijuo
Abuja – The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono says Nigeria is producing enough to feed itself, contrary to the narrative in some quarters that there is hunger in the land.
Nanono said this at a news conference on Monday in Abuja as part of activities to mark the 2019 World Food Day being celebrated internationally on Oct. 16.
He said it was wrong to promote the idea that there was hunger in Nigeria, adding that there were only inconveniences being addressed by the Federal Government and relevant stakeholders like the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
According to the minister, the world food day is set aside to discuss food production.
“From what I am seeing in this conference room, there is no sign of hunger but obesity. Only a few people like me are either trying to balance their diet or is it fasting that is responsible for the way some of us look?
“The policy of the present government for us to feed ourselves is key. In the process value chains are being created to empower people and give out some jobs.
“I think we are producing enough now to feed ourselves and I think there is no hunger but if you say inconveniences I would agree.
“When people talk about hunger I laugh because they do not know hunger. If you go to other countries you will see what hunger is.
“Food in Nigeria is fairly cheap compared to other countries. In kano for instance, you can eat N30 worth of food and be satisfied. So, we should be thankful that we can feed ourselves and we have relatively cheap food in this country,” he said.
On fears that insecurity and flood may lead to food shortage, the minister said while it was true that there were challenges in some states.
According to him, reports from Gombe and Bauchi states where I visited a few days ago, showed that there will be bumper harvest.
“Although, there has been flood and insurgency but I think the surplus that will be created in other parts of the country will balance up food shortage in other areas.
“In Nigeria, we are lucky that one of the food security spot is in Dawano market, Kano. But what we need is to reorganise our markets to solve the problem of malnutrition and other issues,” he said.
The minister noted the narrative of hunger was erroneous, noting that Nigeria was a buffer zone for migration for the the rest of West African sub regions.
He explained that there were lots of people from other African countries in Nigeria, who often blend into the system and were not easily identified except for their assent.
On border closure, Nanono said that the report from farmers and dealers in rice and other commodities was that of commendation.
He said although many people were not comfortable with the development when it happened, the testimonies that followed the closure were encouraging.
The minister said, “I think when the government came out with the rice policy, most people felt uneasy because they are used to imported rice, which sometimes are expired but we are now seeing the benefit.
“Some of our neighbouring countries are using Nigeria as dumping ground and efforts to let them know failed. So we closed the borders to sensitise them on the implications of that.
“One of the largest producers of Nigeria rice was in my office after the closure of the borders and they had about 600 tonnes of rice in the warehouse but that within the week the borders were closed 50 per cent was sold and farmers are smiling.
“So, as long as the countries will not respect the protocol, the border closure will remain.”
On rejection of Nigerian products in the international market, Nanono said efforts were being made to engage relevant inspection agencies to access and certify products for export.
On high cost of imported wheat, the minister said if Nigerians decide to stop consuming wheat bread the problem would be tackled.
According to him, bread is food for the elite and ordinary Nigerians eat more of local foods for breakfast than bread that can be done away with.
Nanono urged Nigerians, particularly the aged, to eat balanced diet, exercise regularly to shed weight, adding that there was a need for continued sensitisation on healthy living.(NAN)