Okigwe (Imo) – The Federal Government has expressed its resolve to upscale the national silos programme in the South East as part of strategies to ensure food security in the country.
Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, made the pledge on Friday in Okigwe during a facility visit to Bayelsa Silos in Igbogene and Okigwe.
Lokpobiri said Nigeria might not achieve its objective of food security and self sufficiency if the silos were not functioning optimally to store excess produce and adequately arrest all post harvest losses.
He said the upscaling of the silos was to meet timely target and usage of farm produce, saying that the storage programmer was key to food sufficiency.
The minister expressed concern and displeasure that the Igbogene silo, whose contract was awarded in 2009, had lingered and was still far from completion.
At Okigwe, the minister said that 20 silo bins were already in place, but urged the contractor to put more efforts towards the completion.
Lokpobiri said that there might be a need for more capable contractor to handle and deliver the project in Bayelsa at a record time if government would achieve food security beneficial and profitable to government and the people.
Mr Luggard Enobakhare, the Site Manager of Continental Civil and General Construction Company handling the Okigwe Silo, expressed gratitude at the minister’s visit.
He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the 20 grain silo project was made up of 5000 metric tonnes each totaling 100,000 metric tonnes and was already 70 per completed.
The site manager said the silos would serve Imo and Abia states when completed.
He identified the topography in the area and erosion as the major challenges faced by the company.
Enobakhare said that already the workshop and utility building of the complex had collapsed as a result of erosion, stressing that there was the need for an embankment to control the erosion.
NAN reports that Mr Sheu Hello, the Director of National Strategic Grains Reserve, accompanied the minister on the facility visit.