The President of Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Dr Agnes Kalibata, has urged the federal and state governments to ensure adequate food production using the existing policies and innovations in agriculture amidst the lockdown.
It said the government should take lessons from other African countries to avert impending food crisis.
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.”
Kalibata added that while efforts were being made to slow the spread of the disease, there was need to make efforts to ensure people have food, else, food crisis would become imminent.
Dr Kalibata, in a statement made available to The Guardian, stressed the need to consider the very real danger that the COVID-19 pandemic would pose in its wake; a food security crisis that could affect the political, social and economic health of African countries.
She pointed out that each of the 14 countries that AGRA partners with had 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 by ensuring farmers continue to do their work.
She said Nigeria could learn from the Indian government by exempting agriculture and allied activities from the ongoing lockdown, noting that the government of Ethiopia found ways to get inputs to farmers at lower prices than usual to ensure that all farmers have access to the right inputs also.
In Ghana, she added, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture had secured inputs, seeds and fertilizer for farmers through the government flagship, Planting for Food and Jobs Programme.
She said the Kenyan government is also supporting rice millers with working capital so they can continue purchasing paddies from farmers, as cereals and pulses are stock up for use to mitigate the COVID-19 food security challenges.
Meanwhile, 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.