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Worm disease hits maize production in southwest


Audu Ogbeh, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development

Audu Ogbeh, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development

Federal government yesterday alerted on the outbreak of ‘army worm disease’ that is currently attacking maize farms in some states in the southwest of the country.

This is coming barely few weeks after the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development had raised the alarm over the degree of loss tomatoes farmers have sustained in the country, due to the recent tomato diseases, Tuta Absoluta.

The minister, Audu Ogbeh, made the disclosure yesterday in Abuja, while briefing journalists on the progress made by his ministry in livestock development and issues surrounding the controversial grazing reserve.

He expressed worry that government’s concerted efforts at ensuring food security and making agriculture our mainstay, is under serious threat by the emergency of these crops diseases.Ogbeh said he has given marching orders to experts who are already combing the affected places to contain the spread of the diseases.

According to him, incidences of attack by armyworm had been established in Edo State and some southwest states. He however assured that the ministry is working closely with scientists at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) to ensure quick containment of the disease.

On plans to make agriculture contribute 40% to the nation’s GDP, the minister stated that the resolve to stop the capital flight on milk importation, which runs into several billions of dollar is not a mere political mantra, but a strong policy statement that must be backed by action.

Ogbeh, who reiterated his commitment to strategic planning and execution of people oriented programmes, said he believes in action instead of using propaganda that will ultimately lead to deception.

He said government is working out a modality for people to have access to micro credit at single digits interest rates, while other forms of incentives will also be introduced to make animal husbandry attractive.

The minister allays the fear on the controversial grazing reserve, denying that government is operating under cover to seize peoples’ land and expand the tentacles of Islam to the southern part of Nigeria.

He however disclosed that some states, Plateau, Kaduna, Kano, Gombe, Katsina, Taraba, Niger, Adamawa, Jigawa, Sokoto and the FCT have donated five hectares of land to the Federal Government to be developed into grazing reserves in the country.

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