…seeks intervention from NEMA, NCDC, Agric Ministry

The Nigerian Senate has expressed deep concern over the devastating loss of over N10 billion incurred by ginger farmers in Southern Kaduna, Kaduna State. The Senate has called for urgent intervention from various governmental bodies, including the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

This call to action was prompted by a motion sponsored by Sunday Marshall Katung, a member of the People’s Democratic Party representing Kaduna South. The motion highlighted the urgent need to address a deadly disease outbreak that has severely impacted ginger production in the Southern Kaduna region.

Ginger has been a staple crop in Southern Kaduna since 1927, and over the years, it has gained increasing importance as a valuable commodity. Kaduna State ranks as the highest ginger producer in Nigeria, contributing significantly to the country’s status as one of the world’s largest ginger producers. During the five-year period from 2014 to 2018, Nigeria produced an average of more than 300,000 tonnes of ginger, claiming approximately 11 percent of the global market share, second only to India.

Ginger production is not only a vital source of revenue but also a means of reducing poverty among local farmers in Southern Kaduna and across the country. Additionally, ginger consumption boasts numerous health benefits, from preventing stomach ulcers to aiding chemotherapy treatment for cancer patients.

Unfortunately, the 2023 ginger season in Southern Kaduna has suffered a severe setback due to an outbreak of fungi pathogens, resulting in the destruction of over 2,500 hectares of farmland, estimated at N10 billion, across seven Local Government Areas in Southern Kaduna. This crisis not only threatens Nigeria’s global position in ginger production but also endangers the livelihoods of the affected communities.

There are concerns that this disease outbreak could have public health implications, as research suggests that pathogens affecting plants can potentially mutate and infect human beings.

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To address this crisis, the Senate has mandated its Committee on Agricultural Production and Rural Development to collaborate with the National Agricultural Quarantine Services and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security. They will conduct an immediate on-the-spot assessment tour of the affected areas in Southern Kaduna.

Furthermore, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has been called upon to coordinate surveillance systems to gather, analyze, and interpret data related to this disease outbreak, aiming to prevent further spread.

Recognizing the immediate need for assistance, the Senate has also urged NEMA to provide urgent palliatives to the affected ginger farmers in Southern Kaduna, whose livelihoods have been devastated by this disease.

The motion was seconded by several senators, emphasizing the economic and export potential of the ginger sector in Nigeria and the need to protect and support ginger farmers in Southern Kaduna.

Senate President Godswill Akpabio commended Katung for his motion and urged all relevant agencies to swiftly address the issues surrounding the ginger disease outbreak in Southern Kaduna, including the provision of relief materials by NEMA.

The Senate’s unanimous call for action underscores the critical importance of ginger production to Nigeria’s economy and the urgent need to safeguard the livelihoods of farmers in the region.