The presidency yesterday said huge demand for Nigeria's cereals and grains in the global market could put pressure on food security in the country next year.
Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu made the disclosure while featuring on radio programme in Kano yesterday.
The presidential aide told Pyramid Radio that the huge demand for Nigeria's grains in the global market was creating "an excellent environment for the mindless export of grains across our borders and unless this is curtailed, Nigerian markets will be bereft of food by January next year."
He noted that the Ministry of Agriculture had advised Buhari on the need to draw the attention of all Nigerians to this issue "which, if not addressed promptly, could lead to a shortage of grains in our country by January."
Shehu stated: "Over the past year, providence has blessed Nigeria with a bountiful harvest of grains, more than enough to feed the country and to export to other countries. At present, there is a high demand for grains from Nigeria, from African countries as distant as Libya and Algeria, and from places as far away as Brazil.
"However, the Ministry of Agriculture has raised concerns about a massive rate of exportation, which could lead to shortage of grains in Nigeria by January."
Shehu, who said Nigeria currently enjoys what he called a free market situation, stressed that "President Muhammadu Buhari is not in any way opposed to or intent on tampering with that."
He said exporters, on the other hand, also have a moral obligation to make their produce available to Nigerians who live within the country's borders "to ensure that our citizens have access to food."
According to him, the Ministry of Agriculture estimates that no fewer than 500 trucks laden with grain leave Nigerian markets every week headed for countries outside the borders.
He said the major markets involved in this exportation were the Dawanau Market in Kano, Maigatari Market in Jigawa, Bama Market in Borno and Ilela Market in Sokoto as well as three other main markets in Kebbi State.
On what the government is doing to avert the frightening situation, Shehu said Buhari had asked the Ministry of Agriculture to present a quick plan for the purchase of surplus grains to be stored in warehouses across the country to save for the rainy day.
He said the president, however, stressed the need for moral pressure on exporters by traditional and religious authorities to curtail the depletion of the home market.