Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, has warned of an imminent food crisis following the possible invasion of quelea birds, locusts and grasshoppers from neighboring Niger Republic into the country.
Ogbeh gave the warning during an emergency meeting with state commissioners of Agriculture in 12 states in Abuja.
According to the Minister, the invasion of army worm from neighboring countries into some farmlands in Nigeria have resulted in large scale losses of grains, a situation that has led to the increase in the price of maize to N15,000 a bag.
Commissioners of Agriculture in Kebbi, Zamfara, Sokoto and Jigawa states who spoke at the meeting, confirmed the presence of quelea birds in about six -seven local governments areas in their states. Ogbeh said Nigeria is already facing maize crisis, adding that if the birds are added to the crisis, the country would be in turmoil.
“There is warning that we have received that locusts and quelea birds are massing up in Niger Republic from where they normally attack us in Nigeria. We know how dangerous quelea birds can be and locusts. If they arrive within hours and days, they would have wiped out everything the farmers would have put in the field. We already have maize crisis. We may have food problems if we are attacked. This country would be in turmoil. We can’t afford that. The army warm is another problem. We already have severe shortages of maize. You know the price rose to N15,000 as a result of that. Most of the poultry farms are in trouble and many families are hungry. We have got to start working together like this to deal with these things as soon as there is any sign of them. We must have an emergency team between you and ourselves to tackle these issues very swiftly. Now we know they will come. We have to design a strategy where chemicals are available in all the states and contingency steps can be taken quickly.”he said