NIGERIA’S agriculture minister Sabo Nanono has declared that there is no hunger in the land as the country produces enough food to feed itself and send to neighbouring countries so the nation will keep its borders closed to protect local producers.
Currently the world’s sixth largest agricultural producer, Nigeria is the planet’s largest producer of several crops like yam, cassava, shea nuts, kola nuts, egusi, coco yam and cashews and is also a major origin for other crops like cocoa, palm oil, plantain, millet, sorghum, coconuts, etc and the government is trying to expand on this by encouraging more cultivation and supporting agriculture.
One area where the country has enjoyed significant success of late is with rice production, where output has grown to 3.7m tonnes, making Nigeria Africa’s largest producer. However, this attempt at becoming self-sufficient in rice production is being frustrated by smuggling, forcing the government to close its border with Benin Republic, from where Chinese rice is being smuggled into the country.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja to mark the 2019 World Food Day, Mr Nanono described the cry by some Nigerians of hunger in the land as laughable, insisting that there was no hunger in Nigeria. According to the minister, food is very cheap in Nigeria compared with other countries.
Mr Nanono said: “I think we are producing enough to feed ourselves and I think there is no hunger in Nigeria. There could be inconveniences but when people talk about hunger in this government, I just laugh as in this country, it is fairly cheap to buy food.
Nigeria’s biggest problem with food, however, remains her poor storage and transportation facilities that result in about one third of output perishing. Mr Nanono added that the federal government decided to shut the borders owing to the excesses of neighbouring countries that had made the country a dumping ground for expired rice and other goods.
“That’s the basis for the closure of the border and I think Nigeria tried to make these neighbouring countries understand our predicament but to no avail. So long as these countries bordering us will not respect Nigerian stand on food importation, the borders will remain closed,” the minister added.