COVID-19: Senate moves to avert food crises

The Senate on Tuesday passed for second reading a Bill which seeks to establish a Food Reserve Agency in the country.

One of the main objectives of the Bill that was sponsored by Senator Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa West), is to ensure food security for Nigeria in order to avert any form of emergency food crises in the future.

Senator Adamu in his lead debate underscored the importance of diversifying the nation’s economy.

He explained that there is the need for enabling laws to address the problem of food insecurity in the country.

According to the lawmaker, the Food Reserve Agency when established, would be responsible for storing food grains and other food commodities for strategic purposes.

“Agriculture plays a pivotal role in the development and growth of every nation. Any country seeking to diversify its economy, alleviate poverty, create jobs and ensure food security should prioritize agriculture.

“Nigeria recognizing the important role Agriculture plays has made efforts to place the sector at the fore by introducing different intervention programmes and policies backed by enabling laws.

“A further step to be taken to ensure food security in our country at all times is to formulate enabling laws that will address food insecurity,” Adamu said.

He stated that the Agency when established, “will implement the overall National Food Reserve Policy to ensure a reliable supply of designated commodities in the country.”

The lawmaker recalled that, “the recent mandate of the President during the COVID-19 pandemic to distribute 70,000 metric tonnes of grains from the Grains Reserves shows clearly how important it is for a country to have a Food Reserve Agency.”

According to him, “with the existence of the Agency, emergency food crises will be taken care of especially in the period of a pandemic.

“There will also be a reduction in post-harvest losses as silos, warehouses, equipment, ancillary facilities and other suitable storage facilities will be installed and maintained.

“With the Agency in place, Nigeria will be taking the right step in the right direction as replicated in other African countries such as Zambia and Tanzania.”

Senators approved that the Bill be read a second time when it was put to voice vote by the Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan,

Lawan referred the Bill to the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development for further legislative work.

The Committee which is chaired by Senator Abdullahi Adamu, is expected to report back to the upper chamber in four weeks.

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