Nanono Reviews Impact of COVID-19 on Food Security Ahead of 2020 World Food Day

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono, has said that COVID-19 and climate change contributed to the low productivity recorded in the agricultural sector.

Nanono noted that the disruptions caused by the pandemic, in addition to flood disasters in Nigeria, came at a significant cost to the country’s agricultural productions.

The minister stated this in a press briefing organised by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) ahead of the 2020 World Food Day.

This year’s celebration of the annual event in more than 150 countries, has been themed, is “Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together. Our Actions Are Our Future.”

The 2020 World Food Day, which marks the 75th anniversary of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, seeks to draw global attention to the issues behind poverty and hunger.

During the briefing, Nanono noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased growing concerns on the implications of the crisis on farmers and food security.

The minister recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari in his national address in April during the pandemic lockdown had directed him and other key appointees to work with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to ensure that the impact of the pandemic on Nigeria’s 2020 farming season was minimized.

To mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on food security, Nanono said he approved the setting up of a seven-member Joint Technical Task Team on Emergency Response to COVID-19.

He added that the creation of the teams nationwide helped in facilitating the free, unhindered movement of farmers, food, livestock and agricultural inputs across the country during the lockdown.

The minister noted that also following Buhari’s directive, FMARD coordinated the release of over 70,000 metric tonnes of grains to vulnerable Nigerians to cushion the effects of the pandemic.

On flooding, Nanono observed that hundreds of thousands of hectares of rice, maize, sorghum, livestock and fisheries have been affected by ravaging floods in the country.

He pointed out that a Special Committee was set up by FMARD to act on the emerging flood issues and come up with strategies to minimise its effects on agricultural production.

This development, he said, was in order to avert a food crisis and ensure sustainable food security for the nation.

Already, a comprehensive flood mitigation and resilience plan for affected farming communities nationwide has been finalised by FMARD for consideration and approval by the President, Nanono said.

Meanwhile, the minister disclosed that the national food reserve stock was currently at 109,657 metric tonnes and is expected to increase to 219,900 metric tonnes by the end of 2020.

On Agriculture for Food and Job Plan (AFJP), Nanono said that the first phase of the scheme turned over 1.1 million beneficiaries across all states and the FCT.

AFJP, a component of President Buhari’s Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) to tackle the impact of COVID-19 on the Nigerian economy, was launched in July 2020 to address the impact of the pandemic on Nigerian farmers.

The goal of the plan is to lead to the creation of about 5-10 million jobs in the agricultural sector.

The scheme also seeks to, among others, expand land cultivation in each state and to provide zero-interest loans to farmers, the minister explained.

Out of the 5 million planned beneficiaries for AFJP, 1,138,000 farmer-beneficiaries across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory have been empowered under the first phase of implementation, Nanono also disclosed.


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