Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina
By George Okoh and James Sowole
The Federal Government has reaffirmed its commitment to alleviate the hardship faced by flood victims in the country with the release of N9.7 billion through the National Flood Recovery Food Production Plan.
Also, the Federal Government has commenced the free distribution of 900 metric tonnes of assorted grains to victims of flood disasters in Ondo State at the 25,000 metric tonnes capacity silos along Oda Road in Akure, the state capital.
Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, who announced the release of the fund Wednesday, while commencing the distribution of grains from the Strategic Grains Reserve Silo in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, for onward distribution to flood victims across the country, said the aim was to boost the food needs of the flood victims.
Represented by the Regional Director of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Sunday Edigbo, the minister stated that the plan would cover the release and distribution of food items, distribution of planting materials to farmer, procurement and distribution of fertilizer to farmers at highly subsidised rate and the procurement of small scale irrigation water pumps for off-season farming.
According to him, “The goal is to ensure that the immediate food needs of the areas affected by the flood are addressed, and then double up production in areas that are not affected by flood, to ensure that our national food security is sustained.”
He further disclosed that the Federal Government had approved the released of about 1,500 metric tonnes of maize and sorghum from the Strategic Grain Reserve for free distribution to flood victims in Benue state.
Meanwhile, Adesina, while also addressing beneficiaries in Akure South Local Government Area, said the release of the food items was the first part of four pronged approach to the management of the flood disasters that ravaged parts of the country with economic woes on the victims.
Adesina, who was represented by the Regional Director, Western Zone of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Julius Odeyemi, said a N17.6 billion all-inclusive programme of addressing housing and health challenges thrown up by the disaster has been approved by the President “to address the immediate challenges of displaced families and further put in place measures that will reduce the impact on displaced farmers.”
The minister warned that the items must not be sold under any guise and that security agencies have been told to implement the directive.
He said Lagos, Imo, Ondo, Ogun, Abia, Enugu, Osun and Ebonyin States would pick their consignments of relief grains from Akure Siolo Complex.
Also speaking at the event, Ondo State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Ademola Olorunfemi, said the state had already prepared a 500 hectares of land at the site of Owena Multipurpose Dam for lowland rice cultivation, to complement the fourth component of the flood disaster management programme.
Olorunfemi said the effect of the recent flood disaster was not very devastating on the people of the state due to the proactive measures put in place by the state government, which had been engaged in the channelisation of rivers and clearing of drainages across the state.
He said despite this some people suffered from the effect of flood as farmlands and fish ponds were washed away by the flood though not as pronounced as in some parts of the country.
The commissioner said the event was the beginning of the food distribution in the state, adding that it would be carried out in all other 18 local governments.