LAGOS – Stakeholders in the Agriculture sector have commended President Muhammadu Buhari over his directive that a three month moratorium be given to all Agricultural loans to cushion the effect of the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world.
Some of the stakeholders in separate interviews with DAILY INDEPENDENT said that it is a good step and in right direction, that there is no doubt the pandemic will have a negative impact on the various sectors of the economy.
Wale Oyekoya, an Agriculturist and Consultant said that it is a good directive if it is going to be well implemented and followed.
He said that he expects the government to convert the loans to grant because the Coronavirus effect will be very devastating in the long run, and will affect global economy and lead to global recession.
“Most loans will go bad as Coronavirus collateral damages will be huge and unrepairable. All other countries are rolling out stimulus packages for their economy to pick up after the Coronavirus, but Nigeria is yet to come up with our own alleviation.
Oyekoya noted that this is the best time to fully diversify the nation’s mono economy of oil into Agriculture of which stakeholders have been advising all the tiers of government which they failed to listen.
“This is the best time to fully diversify our mono economy of oil into agriculture, of which we have been advising all the three tiers of government, but they failed to listen and now they have no choice since the oil prices have plummeted to $19/barrel and definitely our 2020 budget cannot be implemented.
“Nigerians are asked to stay indoor for two weeks with no food or electricity to cushion the effect.
“It will be very difficult to keep people at home for that long with our ways of life style and system. Staying indoor without testing for this virus is very suicidal especially when our medical institutions are not equipped.
He opined that Coronavirus is a blessing if the leaders and law makers are going to learn to improve on the country’s infrastructures and build more modern hospitals, schools and develop the nation’s agriculture sector”, he said.
Nurudeen Tiamiyu, National President of the Tilapia and Aquaculture Developers Association of Nigeria (TADAN) ,noted that it is a very good way to make the businesses under these interventions have some cushion from the strain the COVID19 is going to put on businesses.
John –Bede Anthonio, Chairman and Founder of First African Coconut Company Limited, stated that it is a good step in the right direction, but more needs to be looked at.
Biodun Onalaja, Managing Director of Okun Rice on his own view said it is a nice step taken by President Buhari.
He also said that the initial directive by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor really affected rice millers and the farmers.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari in his message to Nigerian on the coronavirus pandemic had directed a three month repayment moratorium for all Trader Moni, market Moni and farmer Moni loans be implemented.
He also directed that a similar moratorium be given to all Federal Government funded loans issued by the Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture and the Nigeria Export Import Bank.
Computer Village in Ikeja, Lagos shut on Wednesday as lockdown order to fight coronavirus pandemic paralyses economic activities in the state. PHOTO: KUNLE AJAYI
The Director-General of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Qu Dongyu, has said that while there is currently no need for panic as there is enough food supply in the world to feed everyone, but shortage of fertilizers, veterinary medicines and other input could affect agricultural production going forward.
FAO in the statement noted that there is an enormous risk that food may not be made available where it is needed as a result of the lockdowns currently witnessed in several parts of the world.
He said that the restrictions of movement and basic aversion behaviour by workers amid the outbreak and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic may impede farming activities and discourage food processors from processing.
According to him, “The COVID-19 outbreak, with all the accompanying closures and lockdowns, has created logistical bottlenecks that ricochet across the long value chains of the modern global economy.
“Closures of restaurants and less frequent grocery shopping diminish demand for fresh produce and fisheries products, affecting producers and suppliers, especially smallholder farmers, with long-term consequences for the world’s increasingly urbanised population, even in Manhattan or Manila.
“Uncertainty about food availability can induce policymakers to implement trade restrictive measures in order to safeguard national food security. Given the experience of the 2007-2008 global food price crises, we know that such measures can only exacerbate the situation.
“Export restrictions put in place by exporting countries to increase food availability domestically could lead to serious disruptions in the world food market, resulting in price spikes and increased price volatility.”
Dongyu said while every country faces its own challenges, the collaboration between governments and the full gamut of sectors and stakeholders is paramount, stressing that “we are experiencing a global problem that requires a global response.”
He said countries must ensure that food markets are functioning properly and that information on prices, production, consumption and stocks of food are available to all in real time.
He further stated that this approach will reduce uncertainty and allow producers, consumers, traders and processors to make informed decisions as well as contain unwarranted panic behaviour in global food markets.
He, however, said though the health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on some of the poorest countries are still unknown, “we can say with certainty that any ensuing food crisis as a result of poor policy making will be a humanitarian disaster that we can avert.