Amidst concerns posed by rising cost of food prices in the country, the federal government has hinted plans to concession a higher percentage of its 33 silos across the country to the private sector which it said would ensure availability of affordable grains across the country.
Silos provides platform for the purchase and management of grain stock at guaranteed minimum prices, which is usually made known to the farmers before production and stored at the national reserve silos.
Nevertheless, silos across the country are currently empty prompting market forces to have huge influence on rising cost of food prices across the country.
Prior to now, Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture had also raised concerns over massive buying up of Nigeria foods from the North and Central Africans, which he largely attributed to the Nigeria’s weak Naira, and also prompting farmers to make quick sales and get their returns,there by putting pressure on availability on local demands of food.
To address these concerns, the Minister confirmed to BusinessDay that the federal government has plans to concession its stake to enable efficient use of the silos.
Ogbeh also told BusinessDay that, “They are empty because early last year, we took out 10,000 tonnes of grains to give to the North East. For 2017, we only started buying about a month and half ago and one of the effects of purchasing on the streets was that Prices went up, and we have slowed down a bit.”
Nigeria Farmers had persistently raised concern over the state of silos across the country, noting that the existing silos were mostly empty and the country does not currently have a bulwark against famine.
“For about two years now, the government has not been storing grains because we have not been producing enough for local consumption. There is already limited supply of maize, as we speak,” said Tunji Ademola, national president, Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN).
“The silos were not put to maximum use because of the high cost of running them. It cost billions of naira to maintain a silo,” said Rotimi Fashola, senior partner, TT Fash Consults Limited.
Findings showed that the Federal Government constructed 33 silos in 2009 to ensure food security and guarantee all-year-round supply of food to Nigerians.
The silos located in Ekiti, Kebbi, Zamfara, Borno, Imo and FCT states have 100,000 metric tonnes capacity.
Other silos with storage capacity of 25,000 metric tonnes can be found in Yobe, Bauchi, Osun, Nasarawa, Taraba, Ogun, Anambra, Kogi, Sokoto, Akwa Ibom, Adamawa, Kano, Ebonyi, Gombe, Edo, Oyo, Benue, Niger, Cross River, Katsina state amongst others. The silos were meant to store rice, beans, maize, soya beans, millet, wheat, and other food items.
Construction of silos in states like Borno, Yobe and Bayelsa were stalled due to insecurity and natural disasters, according to a document seen by BusinessDay.
Aminu Dikko, director-general of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), said at a recent breakfast meeting in Lagos, that many of the silos were not properly located, owing to political and other primordial considerations.
Nigeria’s major grains are rice, wheat, maize and sorghum, with a production of 15.56 million metric tons and demand of 25.5 million metric tons per annum, according to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.