The Federal Executive Council (FEC) Wednesday approved N9.4 billion for the purchase of grains to be stored in federal government-operated silos across the country.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Chief Audu Ogbeh at the end of the weekly FEC meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
“We have a memo approved in council for purchase of grains to reinforce the grains reserve. Everywhere in the world Silos are owned by government into which they purchase grains at the end of harvest. The average is usually between two and three percent of all grains grown.
“In this case we have got approval to buy sixty one thousand tons of maize, millet and Sorghum and the purchasing will begin shortly. We also informed council of the problem we have with Nigeria grains especially maize, sesame and groundnut. An infestation called aflatoxin which the Minister of Health confirmed is a very big threat to the liver and the kidney of most consumers.
“Luckily, IITA has found a product which they produce in large quantities which they now send to Africa for treating the farms, the Silos and the sacks in which we put the grains to eliminate aflatoxin.
“The product which they produce is called afflasafe. We buy the grains, treat the Silos and store the grains in Silos so that if there is emergency anywhere in the country, or there is a shortage, a flood and there is no food, we can draw from what we have in the Silos and distribute to the needy areas in the country,” he said.
The minister said the ministry would purchase the grains grown in the last season.
“First of all at the time of harvest usually around November, December, January, most of the grains we have in this country are not dry enough. If you buy and put them in poly bags or dump them in Silos, it begins to gather moles and moles are source of cancer.
“We have pressure from some companies which operate in this country that we should allow them to import maize on the grounds that our maize are not of good quality and we said no you must buy local maize, because we are dealing with the challenge of afterthought.
“Because there is still the tendency to prefer to import what we produce and the policy of this government is let’s use what we produce and save our foreign exchange which is why in the last three and half years we have saved 21 billion dollars on import,’’ he said.