By Raphael Ekpang
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Dr.Mohammed Abubakar has said that flood is a natural phenomenon that could not be stoped, adding that it could in some situation be used to benefit agricultural production.
He has dismisses concerns that Nigerian would experience food shortage in the coming months as a result of the flood that ravaged some parts of the country.
Abubakar said this, while responding to questions from lawmakers on Monday at the budget defence session of the ministry.
However, the budget defence was jointly organised by Senate and House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture.
Some of the lawmakers in their separate submissions had decried the effect of flooding in the country to farm products, saying that projections had been made that Africa may experience food shortage given the stoppage of grains importations occasioned by Russian Ukrainian war.
“The main concern about food scarcity, in the coming months ,we will not allow that to happen, I can guarantee you by the Grace of God, because we have measures in place.
“One of the measure is dry season farming, which we have in place and the money, we are working with Ministry of Finance, we have gotten money from financing agencies, one of them is AFDB, and we will intensify dry season farming,” the minister said.”
The Minister said the ministry was already assessing the flood situation on extent of damage done to farm lands and crops like, rice, maize and the number of farmers affected.
He said the immediate intervention was that the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management was currently distributing grains provided by the agric ministry.
According to him, the ministry has programmes lined up to address issues of flooding of farm produce.
On supporting of farmers, for increased crop production,he said that the ministry was distributing inputs every year in every geo- political zones,adding that records of the distribution including farm implements to farmers was available.
“We have insurance scheme for farmers who are flood victims, for those under insurance coverage ,we process and pay them, and for those who don’t have we do intervention from the government from time to time.
He said in line with the directives of President Muhammadu Buhari for the provision of a master plan to mitigate flood, the ministry was collaborating with Ministries of Water Resources and Environment.
According to him, the ministry has gone far in executing 2022 budget, adding that several agric projects and programmes has been awarded for implementation.
“We are improving production of agriculture products in areas where security is okay to make up for areas that is challenge security wise and security agencies are helping to provide some measures of security.
“We have big project for tractorisation and it is on going, we have countries where companies have already pledge to invest in agro processing zones,for example the Kwait firms have already committed 100 million dollars.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture.Abdullahi Yahaya said agric ministry must ensure that its budget was specific and focused on programmes to be executed.
He said there was also the need to ensure that preparation of budget entailed collaboration with representatives of the people so as to benefit the people.
He said it was appalling that a country of over 200 million people would have a low budget on agriculture, saying that it was nothing to write home about, given the importance of agriculture to growth and development of the economy.
Abdullahi, however, said the Federal Government in the last four years has done creditably well on releases of budget fund for execution of projects in the agric sector and other MDAs, saying that the MDAs had gotten not less than up to 70 to 80 per cent of their capital release.
This, he said was made possible via the consistent efforts of the National Assembly on the budget processing and approvals