By Henry Umoru & Joseph Erunke
ABUJA— THE Presidency, yesterday, raised alarm that Nigerians would starve to death by 2050 if nothing was done to ensure an all year round farming.
It also said with the rate the country was going, the population would by 2050 rise to 509 million.
It noted that there was the urgent need for all major stakeholders to work towards improving mechanized farming and irrigation, to ensure an all year farming to avert the problem.
Speaking, yesterday, during the budget defence of 2016, Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said the country had the capacity to grow the grass required by the cattle to consume.
He said: “We have written to state governments to encourage them to develop dams and canals so that agriculture becomes an all year round activity and it is not confined to the rainy season alone.
“Besides, by 2050, Nigeria population will be very close to 500 million at the current rate of growth. This is just 34 years from now. If we carry on at the current rate of one crop per year, with very low mechanization, Nigerians run the risk of starving to death.
He said: “We intend to intensity and consolidate on the local staples, the yams, the cassava, the beans, especially rice and wheat. Both of which consume $11 million per day in import. The figure is going down a bit. We can’t afford that in the long run because we don’t even have the resources.
“The ministry has put necessary machinery in motion to stop the constant bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers. We have decided we are going to develop massive paddocks across the country.
“What the cows are looking for is grass and water. We have the capacity to grow the grass we want not just any kind of grass but highly nutritive grass for the cows to eat. If it can be done in Kenya, Saudi Arabia, there is no reason why we can’t do it here.
‘’There is sizable provision for grassing at hinterland, by developing water, drilling of boreholes and small dams to irrigate those areas already mapped out. In the process we hope that the cattle herdsmen would have a more stable life.”