The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved the Federal Government’s plan to concession 20 agricultural silos on a 10-year lease to private firms for N6billion.
The concessions went to Dangote Group, Coscharis Company and others yet unnamed, which are to stock the silos from their expected boost in production of rice and other grains.
The companies are to organise local farmers and groups to produce grains for them to dry properly and store in the silos, and then market them locally or export when the need arises.
The Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, told State House correspondents after the FEC meeting that most of the 20 silos have capacity of about 100,000 metric tonnes, and were choosen for concession of the 33 silos across the country with a combined capacity of 1.36 million metric tonnes, owned by the Federal Government.
Ogbe explained that “in 2014, the government decided to concession some of these silos, so that the private sector can help use them and pay a fee to the Federal Government.
“The process was carried out by the World Bank, the concession committee of the government, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), the private sector and the Ministry of Agriculture. It has taken this long to arrive at this because the processes are very slow, we wanted absolute accountability.
“Today, we presented a memo to Council to approve the concessioning of 20 of these silos, most of them with a capacity of 100,000 tonnes. This does not mean we are reneging on our responsibility to guarantee food security. We are keeping six of the silos which are according to international standard. We keep five per cent of all the grains we harvest every year, the rest will go to private sector groups.
“Those who presented bids and have shown capacity have been the ones allocated the silos, those who are unable to manage them will have the concession revoked.
“Government will earn N6 billion in the 10-year period of the first instance. The Federal Government remains the owner of the silos and at the end of 10 years, it can either renewed, revoked or we take over the silos and operate them ourselves.
“The advantages of the concessioning include, private sector groups with these silos in their possession will drive the production of grains where these things grow more suitably.
“We have request for grains from different parts of the world – soya beans, sesame, sorghum and millet. We also have massive rice production going on and the likes of Dangote and Coscharis going into rice production now need these silos.
“So, concessioning to them means they will organise local groups to produce grains for them to dry properly and store and market when the need arises or even export,” Ogbeh said.
On the flood ravaging parts of the country, the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, disclosed that efforts were being intensified to contain the situation.
He said that the water level had risen to 11.19 but has not reached the 12.4 level that signals bigger danger.
“The water level has not reached the point as it was in 2012. And we are happy that the water level in Cameroon has not reached the level that will make them open their Lagdo Dam,” he stated.
The Director-General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mustapha Maihaja, put the casualty figure from the flooding so far at 101 and that the government had made a provision of N3billion for procurement of emergency relief materials for affected communities
He, however, put the responsibility of relocating the affected victims into temporary locations on the door steps of state governments.