By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
As Nigeria joins rest of the world to commemorate the 2021 World Food Day, Friday, the Federal Government has expressed worry over threat of food wastage to achieve food security.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammed Abubakar, indicated this during a media briefing as part of activities to mark the 2021 World Food Day at the Ministry’s headquarters in Abuja.
According to Abubakar, the government has made effort to curb the widespread food wastage as a result of post harvest losses by engaging the private sector in food supply chain, and concessioning under-utilized Federal Government warehouses and storage facilities to private companies for optimal utilisation.
He added that it also will help reduce food waste occasioned by lack of proper agricultural logistics.
He said: “One of our greatest threat to food security in Nigeria is food wastage from farm to table. To address this menace we have launched the ‘Zero Reject’ programme aimed at improving the quality of our domestic production to both local and international markets standard. Zero Reject production would guarantee the nation increase supply of food to the people and revenue from export activities.
“Government will always protect harvest of farmers because that is the way to help them continue to produce and make the country food-sufficient.
“When farmers add value to their produce will reduce post harvest losses and also good storage practices will tackle the menace. So let us not only focus on producing food but process as well. Government is also looking at this on how to actually add value and processing.
“We are adding value to cassava process which is cassava flour, and with this it will go a long way to reduce importation of wheat flour which Nigeria is one of the biggest imports of wheat flour. We have investors coming into the country to invest in storage facilities.
“I known in some countries government help o buy some produce and even here government will buy produce from farmers.”
He also emphasized the need for promotion of research and development coupled with technology to achieve food-sufficiency in the country.
“On research and development, on my first day at the Ministry for the handover ceremony, I did mention that research and development will be paramount issue that we will focus on to boost the sector.
“During the presidential retreat I mentioned about technology, research and development.
“We are engaged in research and development and even more in terms of intra and inter national and international levels, even here we have been engaging with them, and we intend to push that to higher level because there are various crops and seeds we can improve on to increase yields.
“So definitely, that is a big priority in achieving that, and this goes in line with mechanization to achieve food security”, he added.
However, the Minister expressed hope that with full take-off of the National Livestock Transformation Plan, NLTP, there will be adequate supply of quality meat for domestic consumption and for export.
“It is our hope that the National Livestock Transformation Plan, NLTP, would address all the problems associate with our livestock production activities and guarantee adequate supply of quality meat for domestic consumption and export for foreign exchange earnings”, he said.