Research institute advises government to fight COVID-19 with agric
The Executive Director, Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Ibadan, Prof. Veronica Obatolu, has called on the Federal Government to recognise agriculture as a key contributor in the fight against COVID-19.
Obatolu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan that agriculture should be recognised as a key contributor to improved health as part of the measures to cushion the effect of COVID-19 on food availability and the economy.
“In facilitating access to inputs, this is the time for the government and commodity associations to play a leading role in securing access of farmers to critical inputs at the grassroots.
“The government can also explore the database used during the Growth Enhancement Scheme to send palliatives on inputs supply to farmers. Farmers should be encouraged generally not to leave the farm by providing them with adequate security,” she said.
According to Obatolu, there is no doubt that the most effective option for the government to control the pandemic is through lockdown rules.
On the effects of the lockdown on food security, she said that the banning of inter-state transportation could cause increased levels of food loss and waste of fresh food supply chains.
“It will also hamper farmers’ access to markets and prevent them from selling their produce,’’ she said.
The Executive Director called on the government at all levels to provide adequate facilities and equip the personnel involved in containing the prevention of COVID-19 in the country.
Obatolu advised agricultural researchers to start updating themselves through literature searches to prepare for the end of the lockdown.
“Farmers and other stakeholders should not overlook the jeopardy of the pandemic; they should obey all directives of the government on containing the pandemic.
“Cooperation with the government to fight the pandemic is important at this time,” she said.