The Federal Government on Monday in Abuja warned farmers against locusts and quelea birds coming into the country from Niger Republic, calling for vigilance and urgent action.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh gave the warning during an emergency meeting with Commissioners for Agriculture from 24 states.
Ogbeh expressed fear that the current hunger in the country would further be exacerbated if the alert from Niger was not taken seriously and measure put in place their entry.
He also warned that if the quelea birds and locusts as well as grasshoppers are allowed into Nigeria, they would do terrible damage to farmer’s crops.
According to him, Nigeria is already facing food crisis and if the pests should gain entry to the country, it will cause a serious problem.
“We have called you here for two major reasons. There is a warning we received that locusts and quelea birds are messing up in Niger Republic from where they normally attack us in Nigeria.
“We know how dangerous quelea birds can be and locusts. If they arrive within hours or days, they will have wiped out everything the farmers would have put in the field.
“We already have maize crisis. We may have food problems if we are attacked. This country would be in turmoil. We can’t allow that.
“Prices of food today is very high and Nigerians are troubled. People are angry and they want this high cost of food items to be resolved in no time.
“I believed with the effort you are making in the states we are approaching promised land. With the high yield we are recording in some states now, ” he said.
The Minister added that there was a disease attacking maize in the country known as army worm, calling for an emergency team to address the problem
He said that the country was experiencing a severe shortages of maize, adding that the price has risen to N15,000 per bag as a result of the army worm.
“We must have an emergency team put in place between you and we at the Federal Ministry to tackle these issues very swiftly.
“Now we know they will come. We have to design a strategy where chemicals are available in all the states and contingency steps can be taken quickly,” Ogbeh said.
The Minister, however, ordered the commissioners to watch out and ensure that any outbreak of the pesticide be reported for urgent action.
He added that President Muhammadu Buhari has written that the ministry should move quickly to check the menace and liason with state governors. (NAN)