COVID-19 shouldn’t lead to food crisis in Africa, AGRA warns

Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), has cautioned that the outbreak of COVID-19 shouldn’t lead to food crisis in Africa.

President of AGRA, Dr Agnes Kalibata, who made this known yesterday in an article made available to journalists reiterated the need to make effort to ensure people have food, adding that food crisis is imminent.

Dr Kalibata who noted that already 250 million people in Africa are without food, said these vulnerable population will suffer more from both the short- and long-term effect of the pandemic.

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While noting that the movement restriction imposed in some African countries is a step towards curbing the spread of the disease, she said the implication on food production should also be considered.

According to her, “Each of the 14 countries that AGRA partner with has imposed some degree of restrictions to protect the populations from the spread of the virus.

“This is clearly an important protective step, but we also need to consider the very real danger that the COVID-19 pandemic will leave in its wake, a food security crisis that could affect the political, social and economic health of African countries.

“There are very good lessons coming from across Africa and beyond and we will bring these to our countries as we go. For example, the Indian Government has exempted agriculture and allied activities from the ongoing lockdown.

Furthermore, Dr Kalibata said AGRA was willing to partner governments to support farmers especially women and youths to plant, harvest, transport and sell their food without endangering anyone.

“We will do this by working with governments to ensure that village-based agro dealers shops stay open to enable farmers access inputs at affordable prices.

Also, 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.

In the same line, the National Coordinator, AGRA Project on Strengthening Fertilizer Systems in Nigeria and also the Registrar Nigeria Institute of Soil Science, Professor Victor Chude commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the directive to release 70,000 Metric Tons of food as palliative during the lockdown period.

Professor Chude, however recommended that government should ensure a speedy rollout of farm inputs to farmers in order to allow timely planting as rainy season is setting in.

Meanwhile, it was gathered that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the restocking of silos, while the minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Alhaji Sabo Nanono said the government would accelerate food production through various programs.

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