Indications have emerged that Nigeria’s food security risks has heightened on as a result of the recent flooding and weak strategic grain reserves policy.
Strategic grains reserve, ordinarily takes charge of the grain storage in the silos and helps to assuage shortages, stabilizing prices of food stuffs in the market during poor harvests in the country, if properly managed by the government.
The federal Government has to deal with flooding concerns,within the country’s food belt, recently, as the flooding drove farmers away from their homeland and their farmlands.
The affected states include, Anambra, Akwa Ibom,Bauchi,Borno,Cross River,Delta,Kaduna,Kwara,Nassarawa,Yobe and Zamfara state.
These states fall largely within the nation’s food belt regions, making stakeholders to express worries about the effects on harvests this season.
The Nigeria Meteoroligical Agency had attributed the flooding to cumultive high intensity rainfall in some parts of the country in June,and July.
Citing further reasons for the flooding,the Meteorological Agency revealed that the floods should be expected in these areas because the soil is no longer able to absorb the rain falls which coincide with the peak rainy season.
Stakeholders have expressed worry over the level of government preparedness, as Nigeria stands exposed to higher risks in the Agricultural sector as revealed by the National Bureau of Statistics in their latest release.
According to the NBS figures,the Agricultural sector grew by 1.19% during the period year on year in real terms, representing decrease of 1.82 points from the corresponding period of 2017, and also a decrease by -1.81% points from the proceeding qauter.
This development has also sent worrying signals to industry analysts who voiced out concern over the development
They are also worried that the Agricultural sector is yet to embrace technological innovations.
“The day we take science into Agriculture is the day we would start. Netherlands is the second highest exporter of food in the World after the Ignited States,and they export $120bn dollar worth of food every year. The country is 43 000sqkm2 which is less than Niger state.”Tope Fasua,an economist told BusinessDay.
Speaking further on impact of Nigeria’s strategic grain reserves Ike Ubaka,the President of All Farmers Association of Nigeria,AFAN,said
“The Strategic grain reserve was established by Ibrahim Babangida. The Strategic grain reserve was strategically located so that surplus grains would be stored so that in the in the price of high price,and hikle they would be released to cushion the price so that there won’t be hunger”Ubaka said.
He, however, decried the poor management of the grain which is already taking its toll on the larger impact of the silos on food sufficiency.
According to Ike Ubaka,”Those who don’t have the management capacity came and the result is rats infested silos which is poorly managed. The Chemicals to maintain the silos is lacking too. We are not thinking projectively. Now that we have this problem everywhere,the producers are distabilised and are in Internally displace Camp.”
“So,if anybody is telling you about food sufficiency,the person is simply lying.We are not ready.We are threatened foodwise.We are far from food sufficiency. Look at the food belt and the challenger of farmers-herders class,with flooding now compounding the issue.”Ike Ubaka said.
Even the one the strategic one they build in Shedda here in Abuja has not taken off.We are threatened foodwise.”Ubaka adds further.
Audu Ogbe Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture few weeks ago said government will concession 20 of such silos belonging to the federal government, added that 6 will be retained.
“ Federal government current have 33 of such silos, each with a capacity of 1,360,000 metric tones. We are concessioning 20 for now and we hope to retain 6”
He disclosed that the silos was being concessioned to some private sector operators with capacity to grow agric produce for exports.
Ike however expressed reservations on the concession stating that the outgrowers who would supply these grain the concessionaires may not be readily available because of the crisis in Nigeria’s food belt specifically as a result of the class and flooding which has seen many farmers displaced and Nigeria’s agriculture still largely done under subsistence level.
Industry watchers said the federal government should ensure that there is a major incentive to attract more people into Agriculture, while also designing a programme that encourages farmers through subsidised inputs and removing all impediments to driving Nigeria’s food sufficiency.