By Idowu Abdullahi,
The Federal Government has disclosed that it had concluded plans to ensure the breakout of coronavirus pandemic does not affect the nation’s farming activities and food crop production even with the lockdown orders.
It explained that part of the government measures to ensure continuous farming activities and food crop production was the inauguration of the Presidential Joint Task Force on Emergency Response to COVID-19 which is to coordinate the free movement of good and agricultural produce across states in Nigeria.
The Minister of Agriculture, Sabo Nanunu, said the joint team which is an initiative of Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, was to facilitate the smooth running of the agricultural sector in ensuring food production and supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic induced partial and total lockdown in the country.
The Minister, who spoke through the Lagos State Coordinator, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Oko-Oba, Olayinka Akeredolu, at the inauguration of the state’s chapter of the Presidential Taskforce, on Friday, said the team would oversee and ensure the free flow of agricultural products and produces in the state.
He said since the country was now in the farming season where a lot of activities are going on in the farms, the country needs to support the sector by ensuring free movement of farm produces to the consumer’s doorsteps to mitigate the scarcity of food items.
He added that the Federal government will continue supporting the farmers with needed inputs, agricultural chemicals, among others to ensure a vibrant agricultural sector and in turn, food sufficiency in the country.
“Agriculture is time-bound, there are some activities that should take place at a certain period of time and we don’t want a situation whereby farming activities will not be able to go on smoothly.
Also, many agricultural products are perishable, within a few hours they can get spoilt and we don’t want a situation whereby agricultural products that are coming from the farms will stay hours at the checkpoints and will go rotten. When the farm produce goes rotten, the farmers will not have value for efforts, they don’t have money and they will not be willing to do more in the next farming season,” he said.
Speaking at the inauguration, the state’s Commissioner of Police, CP Hakeem Odumosu, said the task force was made up of seven members drawn from the media, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, farmers groups, the security agencies, Road Transport workers, and Transport owners.
Inaugurating the team at the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters in Ikeja, the CP said that the team was initiated to facilitate the free movement of agriculture produce and livestock into the state, adding that there had been some concerns by members of the agricultural sector on avoidable delays on the roads across by security agencies.
Odumosu said agricultural products and produce are perishables goods that must not be allowed to waste in order to boost food security during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He listed the members of the team to include Dr. Femi Oke, Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Lagos State as a member; and Muhammad Waksha, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Dr. Qasim Akinreti, Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Lagos State, and Olayinka Akeredolu, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Secretary.
Others are Jimoh Buhari, National Union of Road Transport Workers, member; and Kayode Odunowo, Nigeria Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO).
The Police Commissioner noted that agricultural products have a life span, and at the border of each state, we have health personnel checking the status of the product before they would be allowed into any other state.
Also speaking, the state’s Chairman, Lagos Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Dr. Qasim Akinreti, who is also a member of the task force representing the media, promised to mobilize the media for effective dissemination of the committee’s work for the sustainable development of the country against the backdrop of coronavirus effect on food security.