To mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on food security, the Federal Government has embarked on a four-year post COVID 19 Agricultural Policy Strategy that will guide modernisation and build resilience in the sector.
Deputy Director, Irrigation Agriculture and Crop Development Federal Department of Agriculture, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Abuja, Mrs. Sugra T. Mahmood, who disclosed this at a Webinar on “COVID-19 and Food Insecurity: State Responses and Resilience of Agro-Food Systems in West Africa,” an initiative of the farmers association and Oxfam in West Africa, said its core interventions and activities will be based on knowledge creation & transfer and rural access to mechanisation.
She said: “Others are comprehensive extension services, value addition, market development, protection of the production processes through effective pest and disease control for crops and livestock, sustainable funding, synergy and ministries/departments/agency alignment.
“On cross cutting issues, we will be focusing on data and management information system (NADMIS), value chain developments in the four sub-sectors of agriculture, development of rural infrastructure (especially rural roads), promotion of sustainable agricultural practices, as well as climate change mitigation and adaptation, increased access to standard agricultural inputs, increased agricultural lending and insurance, agricultural trading across borders, year-round farming, women and youth in agriculture, increase in the national food reserve and food security.”
She revealed that so far, the Ministry coordinating the channeling of resources from national budget and donor-assisted projects has supported farmers with heavily subsidised or free inputs to facilitate successful farming season in the year.
“We have taken measures on planned increase of rural infrastructure that would facilitate evacuation of produce, storage and connection to markets. In addition, government is expanding a social investment programme for unskilled youth titled Extended Special Public Works nationwide to employ 1,000 youth per Local Government Area for routine maintenance with stipend of N20, 000.00 per month.
“There is security arrangement to enable access to inputs (especially Urea) and farm lands. Establishment of credit windows and other financial services to support farmers, households and small businesses affected by the COVID-19 lockdown by the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria and Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending.”
She added that provision has also been made to enhance dry season production through irrigation agriculture; enhance value chain activities, including provision of processing facilities, as well as forge partnerships to maintain farmers’ access to reliable markets for their produce.
“Disease and pest surveillance, early warning and sustainable control systems, especially in the frontline states to prevent any potential negative impact on staple crops and livestock.”