To address the imminent dangers of food insecurity occasioned by recent flood disasters that swept across different parts of the country, the federal government has earmarked N9.7 billion for flood recession food production intervention.
The plan has four components including the release of 40,000 metric tones of food from the nation's strategic reserves to the families affected directly by the flood disaster.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Akinwunmi Adesina who disclosed this yesterday at the launching of wheat production and flag-off of the sales of fertilisers for 2012 dry season farming at the Jibiya irrigation site in Katsina said improved seeds and fertiliser would be provided free of charge to farmers directly affected by flood.
Adesina said, "In states that are affected by the flood, but with vast areas unaffected, we will provide improved seeds and fertiliser to farmers in unaffected areas to produce food for their states" noting, "we shall not have a food crisis or famine, we will recover from the flood."
"I wonder always, why a country that has 84 million hectares of arable land will be spending eleven billion dollars importing basic foods such as wheat, rice, fish and sugar" Adesina said.
"I am fully convinced that Nigeria has no business importing food. Nigeria should be a net exporter of food," he added.
The Minister who spoke through North-West Regional Director of Agricultural Transformation Agenda, Dr Nyam Yusuf Leo, lamented that most of the rice imported from Thailand and India overstayed in the exporting countries grain reserves for 10-15 years before being dumped on Nigerian markets.
He said the launching of the wheat production was part of the federal government's expanded dry season production of food assuring that over 500,000 metric tones of maize would be produced in the dry season.
In her speech at the occasion, the minister of water resources, Mrs Sarah Reng Ochekpe who reaffirmed the federal government's determination to ensure judicious use of the nation's water resources said the ministry would collaborate with relevant stakeholders to boost irrigation farming.
The minister noted that plans were under way to partner with farmers association and other cooperative organisations to strengthen farming even as she urged youths and farmers to make judicious use of the federal government agricultural transformation agenda to be self-reliant.
"May I use this opportunity to appeal that basic farming and agricultural skills be taught to students in our schools so as to engender their interest in farming and other agricultural ventures," she stated.
While flagging-off sales of the fertilisers, Governor Ibrahim Shehu Shema of Katsina State said 35,000 metric tones of the commodity had been procured for the current farming season in the state and noted that the commodity would be sold at N1,750 per bag.