Group tasks government on how to avert looming food crisis
The President of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Dr Agnes Kalibata has cautioned that to avoid food crisis as a result of outbreak of COVID-19, all measures must be taken to ensure that people have food now, in the recovery period and beyond.
She warned that if this is not done, COVID-19 will result in a food crisis that will affect poor people the most, in both rural and urban areas, and add to the already 250 million people in Africa without food.
She added that while efforts were being made to slow the spread of the disease, there was need to ensure people have food, else, food crisis is imminent.
Dr Kalibata in an article made available to journalists stressed the need to consider the very real danger that the COVID-19 pandemic will cause, citing a food security crisis that could affect the political, social and economic health of African countries.
She pointed out that although each of the 14 countries that AGRA partners with, has imposed some degree of restrictions to protect the populations from the spread of the virus and protect the interests and well-being of the most vulnerable among us by ensuring farmers continue to do their work”.
She said Nigeria could follow the Indian Government example by exempting agriculture and allied activities from the on-going lockdown.
Dr Kalibata said though the movement restriction imposed in some African countries is a step towards curbing the spread of the disease, the implication on food production should also be considered.
Also, the Country Representative of AGRA, Dr Kehinde Makinde commended the Nigerian government for lifting ban on the movement of fertiliser across the country as part of measures to continue food production during the lockdown period.
In the same line, the National Coordinator, AGRA Project on Strengthening Fertilizer Systems in Nigeria and also the Registrar Nigeria Institute of Soil Science, Professor Victor Chude commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the directive to release 70,000 Metric Tons of food as palliative during the lockdown period.
Professor Chude, however recommended that government should ensure a speedy rollout of farm inputs to farmers in order to allow timely planting as rainy season is setting in.
Meanwhile, The Guardian gathered that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the restocking of silos, while the minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Alhaji Sabo Nanono said the government would accelerate food production through various programs.
Furthermore, Dr Kalibata said AGRA was willing to partner governments to support farmers especially women and youths to plant, harvest, transport and sell their food without endangering anyone.
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