The Nigeria Country Office of Oxfam International has called for new models of interventions to address the plight of rural farmers and other value chain actors affected by the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Country Director, Constant Tchona, made the call while delivering his goodwill message at the launch of the Regional/National Project on the Impact of COVID-19 on Farmers and Other Agriculture Value Chain Actors in West Africa.
Tchona decried the destabilisation of the livelihood and income of poor rural farmers, adding that food supply chains and enterprises have also been grounded as a result of the pandemic.
He, however, pointed out that the non-profit was ready for active collaboration to help improve the situation.
He said, “For us at Oxfam, we have developed replicable models that have proven adequate, appropriate, and relevant in strengthening livelihoods, resilience and financial inclusion of the rural people and even more so during the COVID-19 period.
“We will be glad to work with you all in further validating and scaling up these models for the good of all. For example, agricultural extension service delivery systems in Nigeria and West Africa need to become farmer-driven and ICT-enabled. This model is available for your consideration as one of the values we are bringing to this table.
“We are willing, as ever, to collaborate with the regional bloc of stakeholders as well as the national movement towards turning around this bleak situation into opportunities that will benefit the majority rural farming households.”
The country director also lamented the impact of COVID-19 on agriculture in West Africa, adding that the pandemic has prompted the sub-region “into a serious reflection with regards to agriculture.”
He explained, “The Joint Sector Review report on agriculture in West Africa recently released and reviewed by the Coalition of Non-State Actors showed that the sub-region still has a lot of work to do to strengthen agriculture, food security and economic development
“According to the report, government expenditure on agriculture increased in 12 out of 15 countries in the region, but only 4 out of 15 met the Malabo Declaration requirement of 10% agricultural budget allocation by 2019.
Further, the average budget expenditure on agriculture moved from 6.5 to 7.6% between 2010 and 2018.
“The low level of spending accounts for, for example, the regional average for fertilizer use on the continent which is 21kg per hectare, far below the 50kg per hectare target set by the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) that only three of the region’s 15 countries can currently meet, and why access to irrigation and credit are still very low.”
Tchona, therefore, called for evaluation of the pandemic’s impacts on farmers and value chain actors, further stressing the need for innovative solutions to tackle them.