THE Maize Association of Nigeria (MAN) has urged governments to begin to adopt proactive measures to address the looming food insecurity which will impact on the people because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The association called on government at all levels to study ways of mitigating the issue of food insecurity as one of the measures to cushion the effect of COVID-19 on the agricultural sector.
The chairman of MAN, Oyo State chapter, Alhaji Raji Ayandele, on Monday in Ibadan, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that
farmers are as exposed since COVID-19 was a global issue, and this in itself was a threat to food security.
He said the lockdown occasioned by COVID-19 would certainly result in scarcity of every human need, including farm input and mechanization, goods would be in short supply and more expensive than ever, and seasonal labour movement would be affected with its attendant results.
He lamented that government’s policy on agriculture and subsidy often did not reach the targeted farmers.
Ayandele appealed to the government to be timely in their financial assistance to farmers, especially those in the rural areas, so as to enable them utilise the planting season.
He urged the government to assist the farmers facing hardship with high cost of input such as quality seeds, chemicals, fertiliser, inadequate farm mechanisation equipment and lack of access to low interest loan facilities.
The MAN chairman said: “We also need assistance in tackling lateness in delivering facilities for the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) and unregulated market prices that result in shortage of farm produce.
“We need assistance in periodic human capacity building on modern trends in Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and subsidy where applicable.
“Whereas maize farmers are urged to go to the farm to produce enough so as to prevent hunger in the nation, we call on government to give proper support to farmers.0
“This will ensure that farmers return to their farms fast enough to save the situation at hand.”
Ayandele remarked that COVID-19 had affected all sectors of the economy, especially the agricultural sector, which was the backbone of the country’s economy.
He said: “Farming season is threatened as the lockdown led to short flow of farming inputs and mechanisation is slowed down as well.
“This certainly is a threat to maize production. Many smallholder farmers are far in the hard-to reach areas where little or no information about the pandemic had gotten to them.
“They will go to farm but the necessary farm inputs are not adequate. This can adversely affect farm operations leading to low yield and food insecurity (hunger).”