Maize Association of Nigeria (MAN) has urged government to adopt proactive measures to address food insecurity occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic.
The association called on government at all levels to look into ways of mitigating issue of food insecurity as one of the measures to cushion the effect of COVID-19 on the agricultural sector.
The MAN Chairman, Oyo State Chapter, Alhaji Raji Ayandele, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan on Monday.
Ayandele said since COVID-19 was a global issue, farmers were also exposed; and this in itself was a threat to food security.
He noted that the government’s policy on agriculture and subsidy most times did not reach the targeted farmers.
The MAN chairman appealed to the government to assist farmers financially, especially those in the rural areas, in good time so as to enable them utilise the planting season.
He urged the government to assist the farmers facing hardship with high cost of inputs such as quality seeds, chemicals, fertiliser, inadequate farm mechanisation equipment and lack of access to low interest loan facilities.
“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 also 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.
“This will ensure that farmers return to their farms fast enough to save the situation at hand,” he said.
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 the lockdown occasioned by COVID-19 would certainly result in scarcity of every human need, including farm inputs and mechanisation.
He added that goods would be in short supply thus making them more expensive than ever, pointing out that seasonal labour movement would as well be affected with its attendant results.
“Farmers are finding this coronavirus information very confusing to comprehend. 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),” Ayandele said.