Okwe Obi, Abuja
The Federal Government has revealed that it borrowed over 5,000mt of grains the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), to feed Nigerians as hunger bites harder.
Minister of State, Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Baba Shehuri, stated this yesterday in Kano State, when the Commission donated 3.399 MT worth of cereals to Nigeria as measure to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement, Shehuri said: “The Government of Federal Republic of Nigeria loaned 5,000MT of assorted grains from ECOWAS Stock which was agreed to be paid back on grain for grain basis.
“Modalities had been put in place to replace the ECOWAS Stock before the advent of COVID-19 Pandemic. That notwithstanding, I can assure you that the Stock will be replaced in due course.”
He disclosed that, “In order to address the incessant worrying food crisis in the West African Sub- region especially the Sahel, the Heads of Government of ECOWAS member states decided to set up Regional Food Security Reserve (RFSR) Programme.
“This necessitated the signing of Contract Agreement between ECOWAS and the Ministry’s Department of Food & Strategic Reserve on 7th July, 2017.
“This includes keeping a substantial quantity of food in her Food Reserve that can be used for interventions in case of emergencies and to boost food security within the ECOWAS member States.”
Meanwhile, ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Water Resources & Environment, Mr. Sangare Sekou said the donations were directed to the most vulnerable populations living in Burkina Faso, the Republic of Niger, Mali and the Federal Republic of Nigeria, mostly in the North Region.
He lauded the European union, French Development Agency among others for technical and financial assistance provided pro currently to ECOWAS.
Sekou added: “In compliance with the Management rules adopted by the Member States, food from the Regional Food Security Reserve alongside with national governments efforts, Countries with larger populations that are most stricken by food insecurity are ones chosen to receive food donation.”