By Kingsley Okoye
Abuja, Oct. 10,2023(NAN) The Senate has urged the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), to provide relief materials to ginger farmers in Southern Kaduna, following out break of disease affecting ginger production.
This followed the adoption of a motion at plenary on Tuesday by Sen.Sunday Katung (PDP- Kaduna) on urgent need to address the outbreak of a deadly disease affecting ginger production in Southern Kaduna.
Presenting the motion, Katung said ginger had been grown in the Southern part of Kaduna state since 1927.
He said that the state ranked among the highest in ginger production in Nigeria, placing Nigeria as one of the largest producers of ginger in the world, with production average of more than 300,000 tonnes from 2014 to 2018.
He said ginger production in Nigeria had a global market share of about 11 per cent, trailing only India.
He said ginger production a subset of the agricultural sector, had a significant impact on revenue generation and farmers income.
This, he said had helped in reducing the rate of poverty amongst the local farmers of southern Kaduna and the country at large.
He said apart from its revenue generating potential, the consumption of ginger had many health benefits such as prevention of stomach ulcers, reduction of nausea and vomiting amongst pregnant women, to chemotherapy treatment for cancer patients.
He said that the 2023 ginger season in Southern Kaduna State suffered a significant setback due to an outbreak of fungi pathogens infection destroying over 2,500 hectares of farmlands estimated at N10 billion across the area.
This, he said had significantly threatened Nigeria’s position on the world chart of ginger production.
He said the devastating and unprecedented ginger pandemic affected Nigeria’s non-oil export performance and was affecting the lives of many individuals within the affected communities of southern Kaduna because ginger was their source of livelihood.
“Disturbed about the public health risks of this deadly disease because research has revealed that organisms that affect plants may develop some sort of host jumping, with the mutation or development of the mechanism switching over to the host, and the pathogen that was earlier infecting plants changing and infecting human beings,” Katung said.
Contributing, Sen.Titus Zam (APC- Benue) said that producers of ginger in Southern Kaduna should be protected adding that it was the only way the nation would improve its export capacity.
“People are talking about oil and gas, others are talking about agriculture. It makes sense to support our ginger farmers in Southern Kaduna. It will add more weight for a shift to agriculture,”he said.
Sen.Kelvin Chukwu (LP- Enugu ) said that Southern Kaduna was the highest producer of ginger and the third in the world adding that the effect of the disease affected the farmers while others collapsed on hearing of the disease.
“Their economy has been affected. Something urgently must be done,” Chukwu said.
Sen. Darlington Nwokocha (LP-Abia) said that since Nigeria was talking about the economy and employment, research and development of some of these cash crops sectors must be taken seriously.
“If you go through the budget, you will find out that what we provide for research is too littleas the budget is coming, we have to strengthen the research institution and start on time and tackle this situation before it happens,” he said.
Senate President Godswill Akpabio urged all the agencies concerned to look at the issues relating to the ginger disease in Southern Kaduna and tackle them.
“NEMA should move in there and provide relief materials,” Akpabio said.
The Senate in its other resolutions mandated its Committee on Agricultural Production and Rural Development to interface with the hierarchy of the National Agricultural Quarantine Services and its supervisory Ministry, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security towards conducting an immediate on- the-spot assessment tour of all affected areas of the ginger pandemic in Southern Kaduna state.
The Senate mandated the Ministry of Agriculture and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to move into Southern Kaduna and tackle the disease.
It called on the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention to immediately coordinate surveillance systems to collect, analyze and interpret data on this disease, towards the prevention of further spread or phytonosis.(NAN)