The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri yesterday doused the tension generated by alarm by the presidency that famine was looming in the country.
Lokpobiri spoke yesterday when he visited Dizengoff/Phinada Farms in Bwari.
The minister, who did not deny that such comments were made, however, noted that necessary agricultural activities have commenced to ensure bumper harvest in 2017.
He said the alarm of famine was due to the high rate at which neighbouring countries storm the Nigerian market in the North-West to buy off grains.
The minister stated that agricultural activities in Kebbi, Jigawa, Kano states and other states in the South-East will ensure bumper harvest in the country.
Continuing, “There are a lot of agricultural activities going on and we want to assure Nigerians that there is nothing to fear.
“What the Senior Special Assistant to the President said was because of the drought in the sub-region, a lot of people from other countries are coming to the markets in Nigeria to buy grains which is an opportunity for farmers to scale up production.”
“There is no statistics that there will be famine in January, the Presidency only said that people are coming from other countries to buy our goods.
“And as a government, we are also trying to buy to ensure there is a guarantee price so that farmers are not discouraged.
“Government for now is trying to see how we can buy and store because all our silos are virtually empty.
“The Anchor Borrower Scheme is already guaranteeing one million metric tons of paddies in Kebbi State alone. Government is already making credit facilities and farm inputs available through the Anchor Borrower Scheme.
“We are also investing in processing. Very soon, we are going to launch over 100 small scale rice mill that will be distributed in the rural Cooperatives to enable farmers not only harvest but process, and they can get much more value from rice production.”