How Agribusiness Will Boost Food Security In Nigeria

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 COVID-19 is a health cri­sis. But it could also lead to a food security crisis if proper measures are not taken.

The world is already facing food and nutrition security challenges; this is as a result of many countries following the advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) regarding the introduction of physical dis­tancing measures as one of the ways in which transmission of the disease can be reduced.

The application of these mea­sures has resulted in the closure of many businesses, schools, and institutes of education, and restrictions on travel and social gatherings. For some people, working from home, telework­ing, and on-line or internet dis­cussions and meetings are now normal practices.

Food industry personnel, however, do not have the oppor­tunity to work from home and are required to continue to work in their usual workplaces.

Keeping all workers in the food production and supply val­ue chains healthy and safe is critical to surviving the current pandemic. Maintaining the move­ment of food along the food chain is an essential function to which all stakeholders along the food value chain need to contribute.

This is also required to main­tain trust and consumer confi­dence in the safety and avail­ability of food in a time like this. The food industry should have Food Safety Management Systems (FSMS).

However, if drastic measures are not taken concerning Agri­cultural value chain in Nigeria as soon as possible the COVID-19 pandemic will unleash a food se­curity crisis not seen since the Great Recession in the country.

As the farming season is here, the lock down measure that states in the federation are applying to curtail the spread of coronal virus will affect this year’s farming season, already the food or Agro produce supply chain has been disrupted since the adoption of lock down policy. Farmers need farm inputs or to sale agro produce to prepare for the new farming season which is here. A nation without food security has no security at all.

As government is paying much attention to the health situation in Nigeria they should not forget that the greatest of COVID-19 is coming which is hunger-2020 if nothing is done.

Nigerian economic future in a time like this is uncertain as we over depend on oil and other na­tions of the world for virtual ev­erything. Very soon accusing fin­ger will be pointing at the crash in global price of crude, COVID-19 and the nation’s dependence on imported goods to the detriment of producing for export.

“I believe that Agriculture and ancillary Agro-businesses are the magic wands that can save Nige­ria. Exploring opportunities in primary agriculture and agro-food sector for increased employ­ment and export earnings is the way out.

“For sustainability and food security, experts believe that Ni­gerian and the government need to consider farming as serious business rather than an alterna­tive to crude oil, if food security will be achieved.

“Hinging their arguments on the premise that there is correla­tion between food availability and security, stakeholders in the agro-food industry have stated that that the achievements of over five decades can be undermined by hunger and poverty if govern­ment does not address Nigeria’s food import bill in a time like this.

“This can be done by not just producing raw materials alone but by doing more value-creation business with our raw materials (Processing and Packaging). This as a result will lead to an improved Agro based technology whereby we fabricate our machineries for processing and packaging”.

The Ministry of Agriculture and rural development lead by Alhaji Muhammed Sabo Nanono should lay out a COVID-19 Emer­gency Food Security Prepared­ness Plan.

“This plan should clearly spell out details of a strategy to release more food into the system based on needs in particular State at specific points in time; a strat­egy to ensure prices of food do not spiral out of control and to avoid hoarding; and a strategy to ramp up food production in these times when some farmers are not going out to the fields to harvest or farm and traders are not trans­porting products because people are staying home, strategy to increase investments in local ag­riculture, commercial farming and greenhouse set-ups and oper­ations for increased production, marketing and storage as well as a clear policy direction on major agricultural innovations such as genetic engineering and genome editing, which has the potential of helping produce crops that are high-yielding, early-maturing, drought-tolerant, disease- and pest-resistant…for the benefit of Nigerians. These will strengthen our food security in a time like this that the whole world is in a lockdown”.

Read Original Report Here By Independent

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