The Federal Government on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a private firm, African Exchange Holdings, to build 800 warehouses across the country to mitigate post-harvest losses suffered by farmers.
It regretted that about 40 per cent of farm produce were being wasted each harvest year, hence the need for the construction of the warehouses from October.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, who spoke during the event in Abuja, said the warehouses would be built in each local government area, where small-scale farmers would store their produce.
Adesina explained that although the government had built silos across the country for storage of farm produce, they were for large-scale storage and not useful to small-scale farmers.
“Nigeria has lost huge sums of money to post-harvest wastages and losses due to the inability of farmers to store their produce during harvest. You can’t trade poverty, but you can trade wealth, that is why President Goodluck Jonathan, in his Transformation Agenda on Agriculture, is doing everything possible to make wealth through agribusiness,” he said.
Adesina, who extolled the business acumen of the Chairman, AFEX Holdings, Mr. Tony Elumelu, and other partners in the warehousing project, said strengthening of the agricultural markets was critical to diversifying the country’s economy.
“Our partnership with AFEX will help to improve the access of farmers to markets, reduce post-harvest losses, stabilise prices and raise their incomes. We are rapidly modernising agriculture in Nigeria and the development of the warehouse receipt systems will underpin the successful establishment of thriving agricultural commodities exchange in Nigeria,” the minister said.
Elumelu, while thanking the minister for cooperating with AFEX in ensuring that farmers get the right pay for their sweat, said he was pleased with the Federal Government for delivering sustainable investment in the country’s agribusiness sector.
According to him, the initiative is a step towards financially empowering more farmers and ensuring that agriculture is not only commercially viable, but has a positive contribution to the Nigerian economy.
The Director-General, Bureau of Public Enterprise, Mr. Benjamin Dikki, stated that ceding some Federal Government’s warehouses for agriculture purpose would enhance the performance of farmers, as well as combat the food insecurity in the country.