NIGERIA – The Federal Government yesterday warned of an imminent food crisis if quelea birds, locusts and grasshoppers gathering in Niger Republic are allowed entry into the country.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh gave the warning during an emergency meeting with state commissioners of Agriculture in the 12 states in the country yesterday in Abuja.
The Commissioners of Agriculture in Kebbi, Zamfara, Sokoto and Jigawa states have confirmed the presence of the birds in about six -seven local governments areas in the n states.
Ogbeh stated that the presence of army warm had already started affecting grains in some parts of the country.
This, he said, had led to increase in the price of maize to N15,000 in the country.
He also stated that if the quelea birds and locusts as well as grasshoppers are allowed to enter into the country, they would do terrible damage to the farms.
According to him, Nigeria is already facing maize crisis, adding that if the birds are added to the crisis, the country would be in turmoil.
Ogbeh said: “There is warning that we have received that locusts and quelea birds are massing 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 and days, they would 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 afford that.
“The army warm is another problem. We already have severe shortages of maize. You know the price rose to N15,000 as a result of that.
“Most of the poultry farms are in trouble and many families are hungry. We have got to start working together like this to deal with these things as soon as there is any sign of them.
“We must have an emergency team between you and ourselves 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 added that President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the ministry to find solutions to the problem.
According to Wikipedia online.com, quelea bird is a genus of small passerine birds that belongs to the weaver family ploceidae, confined to Africa.