The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), released a damning report of imminent or looming hunger on the African continent as the result of Covid-19 pandemic unless a workable solution is put in place to arrest the horrible situation. FAO in the report noted that Nigeria is one of the African countries that would be hit by hunger and identified Yobe, Borno and Adamawa states to have a cumulative population of over 2.3 million people living in hunger between April and May 2020.
The figures may jump any moment; even before the outbreak of deadly Covid-19 pandemic and FAO reports on the likely hunger in Nigeria, indications have since emerged that the country may fall into hunger trap. The volume of humanitarian crises arose from farmer/herders conflict and the activities of bandits in northwest states which have displaced thousands of rural farmers are worrisome. These condemnable situations have disrupted food production chain in the country. Added to the woe is the negative impact of the covid-19 pandemic to the farming season.
The raining season has commenced in many parts of the country. However, government policies geared to address or contain the increasing rate of the coronavirus such as inter- state lockdown and curfew imposed by many state governors may hinder successful agricultural production in the country. Although the government has exempted farmers from the lockdown which means they are free to go to their farms, the policies have put a spanner in the wheel of their business.
Securities officers that should comply by government directives to allow farmers to have access to their farms are often accused of extortion in addition to exorbitant price of fertilisers, pesticide and other farm implements.
The post Covid-19 committee should look at the issues raised by the FAO with all the seriousness it deserves. More than ever before, the country needs new inclusive agricultural policies to avoid FAO’s doom predictions. Government at all levels should invest massively in agricultural production. Our peasant or local farmers should be assisted through interest free loans. Finally, the government should flood our local markets with improved seedlings and affordable fertilisers.
Ibrahim Mustapha Pambegua,
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