As if the highest inflation figures in 11 years were not enough sad news, millions of Nigerians now face a real prospect of famine in the land of plenty as early as January 2017. The Ministry of Agriculture has warned President Muhammadu Buhari that Nigeria, which is Africa’s largest producer of cereals and grains, risks famine from early next year following a huge demand in the global market that is targeting the country’s surplus production.
According to the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, “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, a massive rate of exportation could lead to a shortage of grains in Nigeria by January”.
If truth be told, the free market situation that Nigeria currently enjoys, which has resulted in over 500 trucks leaving Nigeria every week for markets beyond the borders from major grain markets in Sokoto, Kebbi, Kano, Jigawa and Borno states, must be balanced against the moral obligations that farmers and exporters have to make their produce available for the local population first of all before export. Even though the President is not against export of grains, but this should not be at the detriment of the citizens who also need these same grains that are being exported wantonly. It would be a cruel irony if Nigeria would rather let her citizens starve than ensure local access to export grains. Charity begins at home…
– Abimbola Akosile