PwC advocates more palliatives for Nigerian farmers to mitigate COVID-19 effect

• 265 million people worldwide risk acute hunger ― WFP

PricewaterhouseCoopers, a multinational professional services network of firms headquartered in London, United Kingdom, has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to make available more palliatives for farmers in the country to mitigate the effect of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.

PwC, in its recently released publication titled: “Responding to the Impact of COVID-19 on Food Security and Agriculture in Nigeria,” said COVID-19 has impacted global food security due to the lockdown and movement restrictions across many countries of the world.

The publication further read: “In a bid to combating the impending global hunger, the need to attain food security has become extremely important. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), the pandemic could plunge about 265 million people into acute hunger by the end of 2020.”

It further said that prior to COVID-19, Nigeria’s agricultural sector is affected by several challenges ranging from drought and flooding occasioned by climate change and widespread instabilities including the Boko-Haram crisis, cattle rustling in the North and farmer/herdsmen clashes across the country’s agricultural sector, thereby impacting the nation’s food security.

“According to a survey by the Oxford Business Group, more than half (60%) of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of Nigerian companies stated that COVID-19 will significantly disrupt the agricultural sector in Nigeria.

“Furthermore in 2018, about five million people in 16 northern states of the country suffered from acute food insecurity, with Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states accounting for more than half (60%) of the total number of people affected.”

PwC, therefore, posited that with COVID-19, the challenges hampering the attainment of food security in Nigeria could deepen.

It noted that the impact is already being felt in the form of rising food prices. “As at April 2020, food inflation rose to 15% compared to 14.7% in December 2019.”

“To ensure that the agricultural sector is not further impacted by the distortions caused by COVID-19, the government should ensure more palliatives are provided to farmers in the form of improved seedlings, basic farm implements at highly subsidised prices, and free or more affordable farm extension services.

“Also, of importance is the need to ensure that the agricultural sector is accorded more budgetary allocations in line with the Maputo declaration, increase the operational capacity of the strategic grain reserves, and reintroduction of farming clusters to be financed through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.

“In addition, state governments should reassess their area of core competence in the agriculture value chain and promote investment in that area,” PwC said.

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