Nigeria’s presidency is working out a special arrangement with the Central Bank of Nigeria to stock up grains for the 2017 needs and also guard against any unforeseen food shortage.
Under the special arrangement, grains will be procured by Dangote, Flour Mills amongst others and stored in silos across the country, Audu Ogbe, Minister of Agriculture told MetroBusinessNews in Abuja.
Last year, Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation with well over 180 million population, began dealing with excessive pressure on its grain supplies mostly due to exports.
The food shortage was compounded by the fact that Nigeria’s grains are exported to as far as Southern Libya, Sudan, Chad, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali and they come in trucks from about five markets in West Africa to Nigeria, with about 500 trucks reportedly leaving Nigeria daily.
Audu Ogbe said the arrangement was necessary because no fund has been provided in the 2017 budget for grains though will be worked on next year, and that the revolving fund for the purpose was used up by the last administration.
The Ministry of Agriculture has a proposed budget of N123, 440, 807, 622 spread across personnel, capital, recurrent and overhead under the 2017 appropriation to cover forty other agencies under the ministry.
“For 2017, we are going to be depending on whatever these companies have purchased (Dangote and the others). The CBN and the Chief of Staff, they are the ones handling it. I guess what they wanted to do was to get some of the big companies like Dangote, Flour Mills, WACOTT and one other company, to do the purchasing of the grains and then store in our silos by a special arrangement through CBN,” Ogbeh
responded to an enquiry on federal government’s earlier plans to stock grains.
The presidency warned then that Nigeria, currently Africa’s largest producer of cereals and grains risks famine from early this year following huge demand in the global market which was targeting the country’s surplus production. President Muhammadu Buhari asked the Ministry of Agriculture to present a quick plan for the purchase of surplus grains to be stored in warehouses across the country to avoid a looming food crisis.
Ogbe had told BusinessDay that government was sourcing about N30billion loan to stock up about 30,000 tons of grains to avoid hunger, working on the president’s directive.
“The funds we were revolving fund in the ministry was apparently used up before we came in, so we don’t have any money for that programme as it were. We are trying to build it up for next year under the intervention funds, so that will only start afresh because right now we don’t have any funds for those grains.
“The matter this year is not under our control but we do believe that some grains will be purchased and kept by these companies and when and if the need arises they will be released in the market” he said.
He explained that though this was not the right thing to do, “however we are telling the states to have what they call the buffer stock in the states and we are supposed to have the strategic grain reserves.
“There are two levels of grain storage and at our next meeting on the council on Agric that is a programme we want to put in place. So every state must store grains under the buffer stock in their own warehouses while we store in strategic reserves in silos, that way there will be enough food all over the country all year round. That has not been happening but we are redesigning that”.