BY CHIBUZOR EMEJOR.
Dr. Heineken Lokpobiri, Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, has said Nigeria loses over $9billion annually due to post-harvest wastages suffered by farmers owing to inadequate processing and storage facilities in the country.
Lokpobiri who quoted a report released by Food and Agriculture Organisation[FAO], said Nigerian farmers lose over 50 per cent of their produce to post-harvest.
The minister, who stated this on Thursday at the 2018 World Food Day Symposium in Abuja, tasked the stakeholders to find lasting solutions to this perennial challenge militating against food productivity.
He noted that making Nigeria to be hunger free was realistic, adding that the government and the private sector need to work closely in achieving this feat.
To resolve the issue of storage facilities, he announced that the Federal Government had begun the concessioning of 22 out of its 33 silo complexes.
According to him, “Inadequate processing and storage facilities are issues of concern to us because of their impact on prices and affordability.
“The Federal Government has commenced the process to concession 22 out of its 33 silo complexes across the country to the private sector to ensure availability of affordable grains across the country.
“The silo complexes were established by the government to provide immediate food relief in times of emergency, provide appropriate mechanism and guarantee minimum price scheme to make farmers earn appropriate prices for their produce.
“It was also designed to provide a mechanism for price stabilization and storage capacity for excess production, and reduce post-harvest losses which will ultimately sustain the development programmes of the agricultural sector.”
He tasked the state governments to allocate at least 5per cent of their annual budget to agriculture to achieve hunger-free Nigeria and food security in the country.
Lokpbiri further underscored the need for Nigerians to eat the right food, adding that malnutrition and hunger trap people in poverty.
“Hunger and malnutrition trap people in poverty. Malnutrition also play a role in nearly half the deaths of children under the age of five by weakening their immune systems and making them more vulnerable to life-threatening diseases.
“Hunger is one of the problems affecting our country. It is imperative to solve this problem as early as possible and the World Food Day aims to encourage this spirit because of the old saying, ‘a hungry man is an angry man.”