COVID-19: Empower Farmers to Ward-off Looming Food Crisis – Experts to FG

With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting global food production and trades, Nigeria must do all it can to avert a food crisis in 2021, agricultural experts have cautioned.

There are concerns that the pandemic may spark a hunger crisis in 2021, which could be severe for developing countries to handle.

Agric Experts have however called on the Federal Government to cushion the impact of the pandemic on agriculture by providing inputs, credit facilities, and an enabling environment for the food system to thrive.

In a report contained in the Guardian, the experts believe that a lockdown on activities could greatly impact rain-fed farming activities and could lead to poor productivity in the long run.

Plant breeder at the Institute of Agricultural Research & Training (IAR&T), Prof. Samuel Olakujo, warned that the COVID-19 pandemic is already adversely affecting farming activities and posing threats to food production.

On the delay in cultivating, he said, “Farmers should by now be preparing the land, sourcing for genuine but quality inputs, planning what to grow, when and where to grow them. They should be meeting with the off-takers of their produce and seal the agreement”

He stressed that all desk officers working on one agricultural project or the other should be exempted from lockdown so as to attend to the real assignments on farming, inputs, and extension because the time for wet season farming is now.

“Procurement of seeds and other inputs the government is planning to distribute is now since agricultural operations and activities are time-bound.

“Distributing such inputs after May 2020 is as good as not purchasing it, because only about 35 percent of such will be useful this year, especially for farmers in the Northern region.

“The Federal Government should also be meeting with grain aggregators for storage in the grain reserves and not waiting till December during harvesting.”

On his part, Former Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Prof. Sanni Lateef, said that agricultural activities have been halted by the COVID-19 scourge and is affecting the cultivation of various agro-commodities during this wet season. He warned that a food crisis was looming if pro-active measures were not taken.

“If we are lucky to have total cooperation of Nigerians to flatten the curve and reduce the pandemic gestation period, then we can gain from planting in the third to the fourth quarter of 2020. Otherwise, there will be serious food insecurity in 2021.”

“Our emerging seed and SMEs entrepreneurs need to be financially supported with funds and logistics to provide food for the masses. This will reduce the cost of basic food crops. We need to avert the likely famine facing us, soon,” he said.

For Prof. Damian Chickwendu, the Team Lead of Cultivating New Frontier in Agriculture (CNFA), the government must be firm in fast-tracking agricultural activities by providing enough facilities for farmers during this pandemic.

“Just as the government is ensuring that all the necessary things and conditions needed to halt the spread of COVID-19 are in place, they should also ensure that all inputs needed for the fast-approaching farming season are in place.

“The usual plans to ensure input availability (including agricultural credit) at the right time should continue,” he stressed



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