By Audrey Lotechukwu
TUE, MAY 19 2020-theG&BJournal- The Nigerian Senate Tuesday considered a Bill for the establishment of a National Food Reserve Agency brought before it by Senator Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa State).
The Bill, which was read a second time in the Senate, was subsequently referred to the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development by the Senate President, Dr Ahmed Lawan, for evaluation. The Committee was directed to report back in four weeks.
Senator Adamu explained the components of the Bill, which is divided into five parts, to the Senate. It includes the administrative set up of the agency, the appointment of a director general of the agency, the financial consideration and others.
‘’The Bill will enhance food security in the country as food stuffs will be stored for periods of food emergencies or crisis, and with the passage of the Bill, the agency will become mandated to declare food emergency to release the food for use of the citizens,’’ Senator Adamu said.
He noted that that the establishing the agency will ensure that food products are not wasted when harvested from farm as usually witnessed in parts of the north.
Senator Adamu added that the establishment of the agency is in fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Programmes which talks about food security.
Senator Kabir Barkiya (Katsina Central Senatorial District) while weighing in on the debate said, it is a very important Bill and it is not just for the passage but its implementation.
‘’The issue of the institutional framework of the agency which was raised should be very lean and not over staffed. When agencies are established, it is usually overstaffed, and that is why we currently have over 70% of our budget on recurrent. Establishing the agency will ensure that food products are not wasted when harvested ’’
Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (Niger North Senatorial District, Niger State) said: ‘’with the challenges that we have faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time to have such an agency. The agency will ensure that farmers will be encouraged to produce as their products will be bought by government.’’
He said the absence of institutional framework like that of the agency is the reason why we have different silos across the country that are performing below half their capacities.