ABUJA – The Federal Government said it would install nine unconventional warehouses to further curb post harvest loses before the end of the year, an official said on Monday.
Dr Jide Olumeko, the Director, Strategic Grain Reserve, Federal Ministry of Agriculture made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
He said that the warehouses would preserve vegetables and tuber crops that were presently not factored in the ongoing transformation in the silos in the country.
Olumeko said that the silos complexes in Nigeria were used to store grains like paddy rice, maize, millet and soybean, among others.
According to him, silos complexes do not take care of the perishable crops like tuber crops and vegetables.
He said that scientists had put post harvest loses for grains at 20 per cent, fruits and vegetable at 60 per cent and tubers at 50 per cent; “these are very high cost economically’’.
“We have another programme in the strategic grains reserve that will take care of them and they are called unconventional warehouses.
“We are planning to install them before the end of the year.
“We are planning to have those warehouses where we are able to control the humidity and increase the share life of commodities.
“We have nine that are coming up that will be located in nine pilot states based on their comparative advantages before the end of this year,’’ he said.
Olumeko told NAN that the department would also give information to farmers through their mobile phones on how to prevent post harvest loses.
He said that the Staple Crop Processing Zone (SCPZs) were also created to further reduce post harvest loses.
The director said 20 of the 33 silos complexes in the country meet international standards, saying that they had modern designs and could be monitored through computers.
Olumeko put the capacity of silos complexes in the country when fully operational at about 1.406 million tonnes, saying that it would require about N110 billion to stock them.
He said the budget allocation for the entire agric sector in 2014 was only N37billion, saying that government alone could not fund the stocking of the produce.
He said that the silos would be released on concession to involve the private sector.
Olumeko told NAN that the current capacity utilisation of the silos was between four to five per cent, which he described as “grossly under-utilisation’’.
The director that said with the involvement of the private sector, it would upgrade the utilisation capacity to between 90 and 100 per cent.
He disclosed that the Strategic Grains Reserve was partnering with the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, World Bank and the Federal Ministry of Finance to ensure the concession of silos to the private sector.
He said that the ministry was committed to implementing international best practices as it was set to ensure minimum price profitability for farmers who would store their grains.
Olumeko said that the silos were accessible as there was one in each state of the federation, saying that those who do not have business in the silos would not be allowed to access it.
According to him, in spite of the infrastructure challenges like power supply and modern laboratory facility facing the sector, the silos could still preserve food for about five years.
He said that in countries like the U.S., India and Thailand they could store food for about 10 years.
He said that Nigeria having the largest storage capacity in the region had been chosen to store food for the sub-region by ECOWAS.
He said that two of the 33 silos complexes in the country had been designated to store food for ECOWAS member countries.
“We encourage the private sector to come in and build even more silos and further expand on government’s efforts.’’ Olumeko said. (NAN)