The Federal Government is very much aware of the cry of hunger ravaging the people, but we are not the cause, the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has again told Nigerians.
Ogbeh said this at a town hall meeting in Abuja, which was attended by nine ministers and organised by the alumni of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies.
“There is a cry in the air that Nigerians are hungry and we hear them loud and clear. There are also unbelievable stories about people taking their children as human collateral for food with no intentions to pick them up.
“This situation in Nigeria today was going to happen; whether it is this administration or another. We headed this way a long time ago.
‘‘In 1986, we were forced to devalue and deregulate. We were forced to open our doors to importation. We began devaluing the naira. We have done it steadily for 30 years. We are now N400 to one dollar and we are told to continue devaluing; that devaluation will bring wonders. I don’t believe it.
“I hope we don’t hit N1, 000 to $1 someday because the demand for dollars is $2.5bn a week and I have this from high authorities within the system.
“We simply don’t have it. We don’t print dollars, but the people are angry that we are not making dollars available. We became importers of rice; $5m a day; wheat, $6m a day; tomato paste, $400m a year; and $20bn a year on food.’’
Ogbeh in July, while playing host to Anambra state Governor Willie Obiano in Abuja, said that about 15,000 broken down tractors, out of the 30,000 available in the country would be rehabilitated to support farmers in Nigeria as the government works hard to meet its food sufficiency target by 2018, indirectly saying that Nigerians should fasten their belt against hunger till 2018.
Earlier before that he said, “We are fully aware that there is a major concern in the country for food self-sufficiency in the country and that there is crisis in many families as a result of serious shortage of food.
“But we are working hard and thank God that ours has not become as bad as one South American country, which was also a major oil producing country. By that I mean Venezuela, which situation is definitely a 100 times worse than ours.
And much recently, he noted that Nigerian may soon start exportation of special grasses to Saudi Arabia to feed their cows. “The Saudi Arabia is asking that if Nigeria can grow enough grass, they will buy to feed their cows,” he said.
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