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The Federal Government raises the alarm over maize army worm disease

The Federal Government on Thursday raised the alarm on the emergence of Army Worm Disease which has begun to attack maize farms in some parts of the country.

This is coming on the heels of the announcement of tomato ‘Ebola’ or tuta abosulata by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, which ravaged some states in the country.
Chief Audu Ogbeh, the minister, made the disclosure while briefing journalists in Abuja on the progress so far made by his ministry in the area of livestock development and the steps being taken to harmonise issues surrounding the controversial grazing reserve.

Worried that the concerted efforts of the present administration to ensure food security and make agriculture the mainstay of the nation’s economy is under serious threat by the emergency of these crop diseases, Ogbeh said that he has given marching orders to experts who are already combing the affected places to contain the diseases.

He said that incidences of attack by the army worm had been established in Edo and some South West states.
He, however, said that the ministry was working closely with scientists at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) to ensure quick containment of the disease.

On the plans of the ministry to expand the frontiers of agriculture in the country to contribute up to 40 per cent of the nation’s GDP, the minister restated the resolve of government to stop the capital flight on milk importation that runs into several billions of dollars, adding that strong policies would be put in place to realise the vision of government.
Ogbeh reiterated his commitment to strategic planning and execution of people- oriented programmes that would engender the needed change in the sector.
He said that he believed in action instead of using propaganda which would ultimately lead to deception.

To make husbandry attractive to more farmers, he said that the government is working out modalities for people to have access to micro-credit at single digit interest rates, while other forms of incentives would also be introduced.
Speaking on the controversial grazing reserves, the minister denied that the Federal Government was operating under cover to seize people’s land and also expand the tentacles of Islam in the Southern part of Nigeria.

He further stressed that the purported National Grazing Reserve Bill that has raised the dust and confusion in the country did not emanate from the ministry neither had the input of his ministry been sought before its presentation at the floor of the House of Representatives.
He, however, disclosed that Plateau, Kaduna, Kano, Gombe, Katsina, Taraba, Niger, Adamawa, Jigawa, Sokoto and the FCT have provided five hectares of land each for the Federal Government to develop paddocks that would be used for grazing reserves in the country.

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