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Food scarcity looms due to flooded farms

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By Timothy Akintola

Farmers and Millers contradict Agriculture Minister on impending food shortage.

The devastating effects of the flood that has plagued over 30 states across Nigeria continue to grapple Nigerians, with the impact worsening the social and economic conditions of the country. Many farms have been submerged and farmers, devastated by this flooding issue. Recently, farmers have however aired their discontent as regards a comment that there will not be food scarcity in 2023 by the country’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar. The minister, last Monday, disregarded every suggestion of an impending food shortage in the country.

At the 2023 Budget Defense Session jointly organized by the House of Senate and Representatives Committee on Agriculture, numerous lawmakers raised concerns as to the impact of flooding on the farm production in the country, referencing projections that Africa might experience food scarcity due to the stoppage of grain supplies as a result of the Russian-Ukrainian war. The Minister however gave his assurance on the subject of an impending food scarcity. He noted that the dry season farming measure, as well as collaboration with the Ministry of Finance for funds accruing are being implemented to improve the food situation in the country.

Numerous international solidarities were also attracted due to the flood.

The aftereffect of this plaguing flood, according to official estimation, led to the death of over 603 people across the country and another 1.3 million people displaced from their abodes. States like Kogi, Kano, Anambra, Kebbi, Delta and Bayelsa have experienced the most death as a result of this submerge. The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq indicated that about 82,504 houses had been decimated, with 2,504,095 persons were affected and another 332, 327 hectares of land destroyed. Other statistics pointed to 2407 injuries and 121,318 number of houses halfway destroyed.

Also, the submerge caused by this natural disaster attracted numerous international solidarities. King Charles III of England sent his sympathies over the devastating situation. President Buhari, in responding to these consequential tragedies of this flood, instructed the Central Bank of Nigeria and Minister of Agriculture to collaborate towards ensuring that the country did not suffer food shortage. The president also inaugurated a committee to see through developing a comprehensive plan of action that will further ensure the prevention of food shortage, with a responsibility of reporting to the president within 90 days.

Attentions not being placed in the problems of the grass-root farmers.

Whilst inaugurating this committee on behalf of the President, Suleiman Adamu, the Minister for Water Resources, who is also the chairman of the committee noted that the flooding situation that had submerged numerous communities and destroyed homes and properties estimated at billions of Naira was no news. The Term of Reference for this committee included assessing and reviewing plans and policies of the flood management, identifying and collaborating with stakeholders for flood management, as well as liaising with international organizations with expertise on flood management. Adamu however noted that this presidential directive was to be implemented under a two-tier institutional framework.

Also, Daniel Ijeh, the Chief Executive Officer of EA Daniels Farm, Sapele, Delta State, stated that the assurance made by the Minister of Agriculture over the food scarcity situation was hugely unrealistic. He noted that the country had no measure in place for business regulation and thus, the recurrent hike in prices. He complained about the prices of fertilizers for farmers and importantly, the circulation of fake fertilizers. He also aired his displeasure as to the herculean problems of food distribution across the country. The National President of Potatoes Farmers Association of Nigeria noted that attention was not being placed on the problems of the grass-root farmers.

Olem Rice lost about $15 million as a result of the submerge.

The National President of the Rice Miller Association of Nigeria, Peter Dama also complained about the unfavorable conditions that rice millers were going through, noting that even his rice mill had been submerged in Plateau State. He stated that Millers had lost immensely due to the flood and while it was presently the harvest season, prices had skyrocketed as a result of their farms being submerged. He stated that Olam Rice, one of the biggest rice producers in the country, lost $15 million as a result of the submerge. He however implored the government to not open the border as it would deteriorate the initiative and successes that the food security system had accrued over time.

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