AGAINST the backdrop of claims that the country does not have enough food in reserve for emergency situations, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has called for a probe of the management of the nation’s grain reserve agencies.
The CISLAC observed that Nigeria has 12 functional grain storage facilities across the country with a storage capacity of 300,000 metric tonnes but that it only has 150,000 metric tonnes of food reserve.
The group also lamented that the 150,000 tonnes earmarked to meet emergency needs for a period of three months has also been depleted, as up to a third of it had been released to stabilise prices and meet isolated emergencies through the National Emergency Management Agency.
The CISLAC, which stated this during a courtesy call at the Abuja Bureau office of The Guardian, pointed out that the Senate Ad hoc Committee, which probed the 2008 food crisis in the country, revealed that of 72,000 metric tonnes of food meant to be released that year, 65,755 metric tonnes were shared by some emirs, federal legislators and other prominent Nigerians.
Programme Officer, CISLAC, Mrs. Chioma Blessing Kanu, who led the group on the visit, pointed out that such cases of corruption threatened food security in the country.
She said: “For us in civil society, the question of the management of reserves becomes an issue as such reported incidences of corruption are a threat to the quest for food security”.
Lamenting alleged dearth of information from the National Grain Reserve Agency, Kanu said the confidence of the population could only be built if proper information on food gaps and response strategies were made available every time.
She said: “The National Grain Reserve needs to re-assess its strategies to instill confidence in Nigerians, especially vulnerable groups, considering the decentralised nature of the strategy and the citing of silos around the country”.
Kanu noted that following recent climate fluctuations, dwindling rainfall, crop failure, natural disasters and famine around the world especially in the Sahel region of Africa, Nigeria must be proactive in ensuring that adequate measures were put in place to respond to challenges that could “affect the availability, accessibility and affordability of food”.