Written by Austine ELEMUE

ARDS begins sale of grains at 50% discount

Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat, ARDS, of the Federal Capital Territory Administration has commenced sale of grains to FCT residents at half prices.

This 50 percent subsidy sale was announced during last week's flagg-off of the secretariat's "buffer stock programme", at the FCT Agro-Service Centre in Gwagwa, Abuja Municipal Area Council, AMAC. 

Secretary, Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat, Stanley Nzekwe, who made this disclosure during the ceremony said that the release of the grains was aimed at ensuring that residents of the FCT have access to quality grains at affordable rates.

The secretary, who was represented by Deputy Director, Agricultural Services, Dr. Nkem Akamegbu, emphasized the importance of the program, adding that it was good for food security. 

He said: "I am sure you will agree with me that food security is very essential because, to a very large extent, it can guarantee general security of live and property. This is so not just because of the popular adage that says that a hungry man is an angry man, but it will also productively engage our youth and keep them off negative vices, which are inimical not just to them but also the society, at large". 

According to him, the first phase of the buffer stock programme has about 650 bags of millet and maize, which have already been released for sale, assuring that adequate provision has been made in the 2018 budget to mop-up more produce from farmers, in times of surplus, so as to reach out to more beneficiaries, in times of need, next year. 

In a bid to further curtail loses farmers suffer after harvest, Nzekwe revealed that the secretariat had deployed agricultural extension workers to assist farmers all over the FCT, by sensitizing them on proper use of agro-chemicals, as well as on effective methods of food preservation to minimize loses. 

The secretary also said that his secretariat was intending to expand the scope of the programme in the coming years so as to accommodate more people. 

Commending the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello for his continued support to the secretariat, Nzekwe said: "I will not fail to appreciate the FCT Minister for granting us approval to implement the programme. 

"This is also important due to the fact that our residents will be able to afford these very important food items at highly subsidized rates, which will no doubt, reduce hunger and bring about food security in the FCT and the country. I also thank him (FCT Minister) for approving the revival of the exercise and directing that the produce be sold to residents at 50 percent subsidy." 

Earlier in his remarks, the Chief of Gwagwa, Mr. Japhet Akawu, also expressed appreciation to the minister for the initiative, which he added was a testimony of the administration's people-friendly programmes with direct impact on the lives of residents. 

The traditional leader therefore expressed confidence that release of the grains would go a long way in putting food on the tables of the less privileged residents. 

In a related development, the secretary used the opportunity to inspect work on the on-going rehabilitation of the Agro-Service Center, which includes renovation of the main warehouse and construction of perimeter fence of the center, even as he expressed FCTA commitment to revitalizing all agricultural facilities in the FCT. 

He pointed out that abattoirs and warehouses in the FCT were at various stages of renovation, assuring residents that his secretariat would increase the tempo of work with a view to ensuring timely completion. 



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