Reports of imminent famine in Nigeria are false – Agric Minister Ogbeh

The Federal Government has denied the reports by some United Nations (UN) agencies of imminent famine in Nigeria, saying there is no threat of starvation in the whole country.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, made the denial when he featured at a News Agency of Nigeria Forum in Abuja.

NAN reports that three UN agencies — Food and Agriculture Organisation, World Food Programme and International Fund for Agricultural Development – reported that Nigeria would suffer famine, food shortage and malnutrition.

Mr. Ogbeh stressed that it was virtually impossible for Nigeria to face famine or starvation because the country remained a major source of food for other African countries such as Algeria and Libya.

“I think there’s a danger of mixing the situation in the North-East with the situation nationwide; I have seen that on CNN, starvation in Somalia and Nigeria, and then they go on to talk about the civil commotion in the North-East

“I don’t think that the rest of Nigeria is facing any threat of famine. That is not true and I think these agencies have to be a little more careful in their prognoses.

“I think there are challenges in the North-East because this is a huge part of Nigeria which for five years has not engaged in food production.

“That’s not the same in the North-West or North-Central or South-West or South-South.

“So, I think there is some degree of exaggeration and a mixture of situations, there’s no threat of starvation because we have been feeding Africa.

“People come down from Algeria to buy food in Nigeria, they come from Libya, they come from Sudan and they come from Chad.

“So, to suggest that this country that is feeding the rest of Africa is almost to go totally hungry is not true. “

As regards malnutrition in the country, the minister conceded that this could occur as result of unbalanced food nutrients ingested by some people, wrong approach to food processing and materials used for packaging of food.

Mr. Ogbeh stressed that his ministry was trying to re-engineer food processing procedures in the country.

“As for malnutrition, there is that possibility, the simple reason being that there is a difference between eating much and eating well.

“And there is also the problem of our diet which the ministry is beginning to work on for the first time seriously.

“Eating well means taking all the nutrients the body requires; vitamins and proteins and carbohydrates in an even balance.

“And there are other threats to health — the way we process food. We have to totally re-engineer the processing of food in this country.

“We are trying to remove import duties on stainless steel, using only stainless steel even in the grinding machines in the markets and in the grinding machines for corns and millet and what have you.

“Bits of ferrous oxides are getting into food and metal poisoning is deadly; these are the issues we are looking at.

“If you ingest a lot of ferrous oxide, your kidney and liver begin to fail, there is nothing any doctor can do to help you

“And now we have brought back the three Universities of Agriculture under our ministry.

“One of the faculties of colleges we are going to insist that each of these new universities should embark upon is the School or College of Food and Health Sciences.

“We need to know more about what we eat and the effect it has on our system, so that we can spend less and less on our hospital bills; these are the issues we are looking at.

“If for instance, you use plastic cups to drink your tea or you eat `moi-moi’ (a local beans pudding) made in cellophane or a plastic container put in a micro wave.

“When you eat that kind of food, you are exposing yourself to nearly 50 possibilities of poison.

The minister urged the citizens to use only non-toxic materials for preparing or packaging their cuisines.

Mr. Ogbeh also said the Federal Government is doing everything possible to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production before the end of 2018.

He said there were strong indications that Nigeria would become self-sufficient in rice production by 2018 because many farmers had rediscovered their potential in rice farming.

“First, let me congratulate Nigerians for responding positively to the made-in-Nigeria rice during the last Christmas period.

“Nigerians have discovered that Nigerian rice is better than rice from Thailand and Vietnam, which are the largest producers of rice in the world.

“We are in a rivalry with the two countries for now and we will soon overtake them in rice production and take over the market from them.

“People in Thailand do not eat parboiled rice but white rice. So, all the parboiled rice they produce is exported to Nigeria.

“Nigeria is the biggest consumer of imported rice in the world.

“By so doing, we are transferring our jobs to these two countries and leaving our teeming youths angry and hungry,” he said.

The minister, however, said that rice production in the country had improved appreciably, particularly in states like Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo.

Mr. Ogbeh said that in the northwestern part of the country, Kebbi, Kano, Jigawa, Sokoto, Katsina and Zamfara states were taking due advantage of their dams by engaging in rice production as well.

The minister said that the Federal Government had just imported 110 rice mills, adding that the mills would soon be distributed to communities across the country.

Mr. Ogbeh said that the gesture was aimed at boosting the production and income of rice farmers, adding that some of the rice mills could mill 50 tonnes of rice per day.

“We are distributing the mills to communities, under a programme called `LIFE’, which entails taking industries to villages, because we don’t have the whole population in Abuja, Lagos, Enugu, Port Harcourt or Kano.

“We will satisfy our demand for rice. By so doing, we will be creating 20 million jobs in the villages and saving about five million dollars used for the importation of rice daily.

“Ironically, the recession in the country is not facing people in the villages. If you go to Kebbi now, there are millionaires made from rice, wheat and soya bean farming,’’ he added.

Besides, Mr. Ogbeh said, agricultural extension workers would soon teach the farmers about how to parboil rice, while setting a standard for the usage of good-quality rice seeds.

“The era of soaking rice in a tank and leaving it overnight is long overdue.

“Rice should not be soaked for more than three hours in water with a temperature of about 80 degrees centigrade.

“The rice should also be steamed for about 30 minutes and dried in a proper place to avoid stones,” he said.

The minister said that efforts were underway to acquire rice reaper machines, used for cutting and harvesting paddy.

He, however, noted that Nigeria was currently selling rice to Cameroon, Niger, Chad, Mali and Mauritania.

“All the same, we cannot stop them from buying our rice; we will rather expand our production,” he added.


Source: NAN

WFP Report: Famine-hit South Sudanese eat weeds, water lilies to survive.

Thousands of South Sudanese families caught up in famine eat weeds and water lilies to survive, according to George Fominyen, spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP).

He said “what we’ve seen is a lot of people coming from the islands.

“They have been living on water lilies, they have been living on roots, from weeds in the Nile, at most they eat once in a day.”

County commissioner Majiel Nhial also said when villagers received food aid in 2016, they were attacked.

He added that “men in uniform looted and burnt homes.

“We lost all our properties, cows and our houses were looted. We were attacked, women were raped and girls abducted.”

Last week, the United Nations declared that parts of South Sudan were experiencing famine.

It stated that some 5.5 million people, nearly half the population, would not have reliable source of food by July, noting that the disaster wasmlargely man-made.

Oil-rich South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, plunged into civil war in 2013 after President Salva Kiir fired his Deputy, Reik Machar.

Since then, fighting has split the country along ethnic lines, inflation topped 800 per cent in 2016 , while war and drought paralysed agriculture.

The women were among a crowd of 20,000 people that emerged from the swamps and assembled at the rebel-held village of Thonyor, in Leer county, when they heard the United Nations was registering people for emergency rations.

Some families received fishing nets and rods from aid workers to keep them going until food arrived.

It was UN first trip to Thonyor in a year.

Many parts of the country awere inaccessible due to fighting, while others were just very remote South Sudan, the size of Texas, only 200 km (120 miles) of paved roads, nearly six years after independence from neighbouring Sudan.

Meanwhile, Sara Dit and her 10 children were hiding from marauding gunmen in the swamps and islands of the river Nile.

The refuge has a steep price: families cannot farm crops or earn money to buy food.

They eat water lily roots and occasionally fish.

Dit said her family had not eaten for days.


Source: Reuters/NAN

Actor, Djimon Honsou, visits Maiduguri to bring attention to malnutrition crisis


“I’m a son of the continent [so] it’s my inherent obligation to care for my own people,” he said. “I also came upon an amazing quote which said: ‘We should all be ashamed to die unless we have made some major contribution to human society.’ I’m looking to make a social impact here.”


Oxfam, who have been assisting the region since 2014, have observed the evolution of the situation in the Northeast. Although there has been progress made, things remain “fluid”. The army has reclaimed territory from Boko Haram but there are still areas under the group’s control, resulting in an unknown number of people who are trapped.


“We don’t know how many there are, we don’t know how hungry they are, we don’t know anything about their situation,” said Kathryn Achilles, Humanitarian Campaign Manager at Oxfam. “The security situation also remains very fluid and quite unpredictable,” Achilles continued. “So even in Maiduguri now we are seeing attempted or actual suicide attacks, a lot of the time horrifically carried out by young children.”


“We need to be mindful of the fact that just because people have fled from Boko Haram, it doesn’t mean they’re safe.”


As for the staggeringly high estimates of those in need, Achilles said that she suspects the true number of those in need is “slightly higher.”


“In any humanitarian crisis you never really have precise numbers,” she said. “It’s a very difficult process especially when you’re working in a place like north-east Nigeria where we don’t have access to everyone that might need our support.”


“Debates about whether numbers are true or not can risk delaying our response, and the slower we are to respond the more people can get sick or people die,” she continued.


Raising awareness and galvanising the international community are key in mounting an adequate response to the crisis according to Achilles. “This is one of the biggest crises in Africa and yet you talk to people in Nigeria and the rest of the world and it’s barely known,” she said. “It’s barely a blip on the international agenda.”


While the government continues to make progress made she said there’s more that can be done. “We need the government to be doing much more in terms of strengthening humanitarian coordination, to really work with us to identify where there are gaps and meet those needs,” she said.


The most pressing need however is food. The UN estimates more than 4.4 million people are in urgent need of food assistance. They predict 400,000 children in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe will suffer severe acute malnutrition over the next year if urgent measures aren’t taken.


“We need to get enough food into north-east Nigeria to meet the needs,” she said. These people are going to need food assistance of some sort for probably the next year.


Government intervention and NGO action aside, ordinary Nigerians also have a pivotal role to play. “It’s very important for the Nigerian people to remember that this is happening to Nigerians,” she said. “Ordinary Nigerians [need to] reach out to the government and demand of them the type of response they’d want if it was happening to them, to their families, their communities, what would they want the government to do?”

Famine may have killed 2,000 people cut off from aid by Boko Haram – Analysts

Over 2,000 people may have died of famine this year in parts of northeast Nigeria which cannot be reached by aid agencies due to an insurgency by Islamic militant group Boko Haram, hunger experts said on Tuesday.

A report by the U.S.-based Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) said the deaths occurred in the town of Bama in Nigeria’s Borno State, the jihadists’ former stronghold.

According to FEWS NET, while food aid is staving off famine for people uprooted by conflict who can be reached, the outlook is bleak for those in parts of the northeast cut off from help.

“The risk of famine in inaccessible areas of Borno State will remain high over the coming year.

“In a worst-case scenario where conflict cuts off areas that are currently accessible and dependent on assistance, the likelihood of famine in these areas would be high,’’ the report said.

About 4.7 million people are in need of emergency food aid in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states, nearly two-thirds of them in Borno alone.

The UN children’s agency (UNICEF) said in September that some 400,000 children were at risk from famine in the three states, 75,000 of whom could die from hunger within months.

“Yet the current humanitarian response is insufficient amid extreme levels of food insecurity, and only one million people have received food aid this year,’’ FEWS NET said.

It noted that almost four in five of the 1.4 million displaced Nigerians in Borno State were living in local communities, where tension was rising in many families as food runs short.

It added that improving security had enabled aid agencies this year to reach some areas that were previously cut off, but many remained unreachable due to the ongoing violence and lack of security.

Boko Haram militants have killed about 20,000 people and displaced 2.4 million across Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria during a seven-year campaign to create an Islamist caliphate.

Nigeria’s army has pushed the Islamist group back to its base in Sambisa forest in the past few months, but the militants still often stage raids and suicide bombings.

There Will Be No Famine, Hunger In Nigeria- Ogbeh

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, says the Federal Government has put necessary measures in place to forestall hunger and famine in the country.

“There will be no hunger. It is just that there is heavy export of our grains to North, West and Central Africa,” The minister said on Tuesday.

“However, we are taking steps to ensure enough food in the next harvest.”

The minister said the Federal Government was also working to develop and establish more dams and lakes to aid irrigation farming to have three harvests within one year.

On preservation of excess grains, he said the Federal Government had provided no fewer than 33 silos with capacity to store over four million tonnes of grains.

He said, “The long term answer to that is to develop more dams and lakes for irrigation so that we have three harvests a year and if West Africa wants food from us, we sell to them.

“We do not have to panic. We have the means to preserve these grains. We have 33 silos, the total capacity of nearly four million tonnes so, we have enough.

“However, we are taking steps; we are assuring Nigerians that there will be no hunger.

“That is why we are here, there will be no need to panic about hunger or famine.”

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, recently warned that Nigeria, the largest producer of cereals risked famine from early next year following huge demand in the global market.

He said in a radio interview in Kano that the demand of the nation’s grains in the global market was creating an “excellent environment for the mindless exports of Nigeria’s food across the borders’’.

He said unless this was curtailed, Nigerian markets would be bereft of grains by January.


There will be no famine in Nigeria – Senator Heineken

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.”

Forestall famine, ban export of Nigeria’s grain – Tambuwal tells FG.

Against the backdrop of concerns in some quarters of outbreak of famine in Nigeria next year, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State has urged the Federal Government to immediately stop the export of food items to neighbouring countries, especially through the land border.

Speaking in Isa LGA of the state at the flag off of the 2017 dry season wheat farming, Tambuwal also called on the FG to come up with emergency plans to purchase excess grains from the farmers so as to boost grains reservoir in all parts of the country.

He also raised the alarm over the massive exportation of grains from Nigeria, saying it portends great dangers to Nigeria’s future food security.

“I keep wondering why we have to ban import of food, especially rice, from the land border but allow massive export of our food commodity to neighbouring countries.

“Considering our population, we must take measures that will enhance food security in our country,” the Governor said.

Speaking at the event, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, said despite challenges, Nigeria is on the verge of being self sufficient in food production.

According to him, the journey to make Nigeria self-sufficient in food production, especially rice is already being realized.

“This is where the country can feed itself and even have surplus for exports,” he added.

Emefiele commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his ongoing efforts to diversify the nation’s economy from heavy dependence on oil revenue, saying he deserves commendation for allowing the CBN to initiate the Anchor Borrowers Programme.

Emefiele commended Gov. Aminu Tambuwal for providing adequate subsidized fertilizers and other inputs to the farmers.

In their separate remarks, Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu and Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, said the anchor borrowers’ scheme will transform the agricultural sector in the country.

There may be famine in 2017, Presidency warns Nigerians.

Nigerians have been warned to prepare for the possibility of a famine in January 2017.


According to a statement by the Presidency, the disclosure was made by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, during an interview with a Kano-based radio station, Pyramid Radio, on Monday.


Shehu disclosed that the Federal Government has ordered the Ministry of Agriculture to store surplus grains in warehouses in the country.


“The huge demand for our grains in the global market is creating an excellent environment for the mindless export of Nigerian grains across our borders and unless this is curtailed, Nigerian markets will be bereft of food by January next year,” he said.


“Over the past year, providence has blessed Nigeria with bountiful harvests 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 the massive rate of exportation, which could lead to a shortage of grains in Nigeria by January,” he said.


Garba said exporters were taking too much grains out of the country.

On South Sudan Famine

Emergency food aid, normal rainfall and the start of the harvest have helped to stave off famine in South Sudan, the latest analysis shows, but there is a risk of mass starvation in early 2015.

Aid agencies scrambled to avert famine in South Sudan by launching the world’s largest humanitarian operation after fighting erupted in the world’s youngest country in December.

Some 10,000 people have died and 1.7 million, one seventh of the population, have been displaced since conflict broke out between President Salva Kiir’s government forces and rebels allied to his former deputy Riek Machar.

“There is no famine in South Sudan,” the agriculture, fisheries, cooperatives and rural development ministry said in a statement. “Food security across the country has begun improving and is expected to continue on a positive trend through December.”

But the World Food Programme, looking ahead, said “The outlook remains grim for early 2015, especially in conflict affected states.”

“Food security may deteriorate sharply early next year as their food stocks run out,” it said in a statement.

Aid agencies called for continued funding for the crisis in South Sudan, which has received almost $1.2 billion from donors this year.

imrsimrs“When we get distracted by language and trying to define a problem in abstract percentages we can forget that every night more people than the population of the city of Los Angeles go to sleep hungry,” WorldVision’s South Sudan Program Director Perry Mansfield said in a statement.

Malnutrition rates remain above the emergency threshold of 15 percent in most of the country, the IPC said.

The number of people in IPC phases three and four is predicted to rise to 2.5 million in January. Experts will have a clearer picture of the situation when the October harvest is in.