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FOOD SUFFICIENCY: Twelve states in Nigeria flag off action against quelea bird attacks

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This years seasonal aerial spray against trans boundary quelea birds in 12 states in Northern Nigeria again underscores the vulnerability of food sufficiency to natural disasters, DDM reports.

 

The bird is known to ravage farm farms, particularly favouring cereals and grains, food stock Nigeria is in dire need of as it battles hyper food inflation.

Quelea birds invade farmlands in large swarm.

On Wednesday, the operation to control the pests will symbolically kick off in Kebbi, one of the frontline states where the birds are known to travel while wreaking havoc.

 

Kebbi State Governor, Comrade Dr Nasir Idris gushed enthusiastically about it, saying that the spray would control the birds and allow farmers to reap harvest bountifully.

 

Kebbi hosted the programme on behalf of the Federal Government among the frontline states.

 

The states are Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara.

 

Especially on wheat, sorghum and rice, quelea birds have proven to be devastating.

 

Indeed, quelea birds, for thousands of years, have had subsistence farmers in sub-Saharan Africa at their mercy.

 

The voracious Red-billed Quelea bird, sky-blackening flocks of the tiny “feathered locust” still decimate fields across the continent.

 

Its main characteristic is that it occurs in extremely big numbers, according to experts on the bird.

 

Nomadic super-colonies of quelea can grow to millions of birds, making them not only the most abundant bird in the world but also the most destructive.

 

Although they prefer the seeds of wild grasses to those of cultivated crops, their huge numbers make them a constant threat to fields of sorghum, wheat, barley, millet and rice.

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The average quelea bird eats around 10 grams of grain per day – roughly half its body weight – so a flock of two million can devour as much as 20 tons of grain in a single day.

 

With an estimated adult breeding population of at least 1.5 billion, UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO, estimates the agricultural losses attributable to the quelea in excess of US$50 million annually.

 

For a country like Nigeria seeking food sufficiency ahead of the raining season, the campaign in Kebbi is quite significant.

 

During the ceremony at Sir Ahmadu Bello International Airport, Birnin Kebbi on Tuesday, the governor described quelea birds as inimical to agricultural productivity and national food security.

 

While appreciating the Federal Government for finding Kebbi worthy of hosting the exercise, the governor observed that Kebbi was strategic to food security in the country.

 

“Therefore, any support will go a long way to getting us achieve results faster and better.

 

“I know the Federal Government is doing a lot to assist the state develop agriculture and produce more food for the citizens of this country,” he said.

 

The governor described quelea birds and grasshoppers as dangerous and destructive, adding that inaction would reverse the food security efforts due to the colossal damage they inflict on food and humans.

 

He stressed the need for both governments to be proactive and ensure concerted, timely and intensified efforts to stem the menace of quelea birds attack.

 

The governor added that the event underscored the proactiveness of President Bola Tunibu’s administration in tackling agricultural challenges in the country.

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He, however, lamented that transboundry and migratory birds posed significant threat to agricultural production due to devastating effects on cereal crops like rice and wheat.

 

He said such acts are causing severe havoc on farmers, which remained major threats to food security.


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