COVID-19: Group empowers farmers to boost food production

The President, Favoured Farmers Community Empowerment Trust (FFCET), Amb. Yakubu Joseph Tanimu, has commenced a programme to help revamp food production, amid the economic crises triggered by the ravaging coronavirus pandemic. He is focusing on empowering farmers, saying it remains the key to boosting the economy, writes DANIEL TYOKUA in Abuja.

He walked the talk by distributing farm inputs and relief food items to over six thousand farmers and members of the organisation drawn from some parts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Nasarawa state.

The inputs distributed to the less privileged to cushion the effect of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the president, is worth over twenty seven million naira. They include sprayers, bags of non-organic fertilizer, seedlings, corn and beans.

Beyond that the organisation the president also revealed, provided about 3,000.00 face masks to farmers in order to help them go to the market with their farm produce.

He regretted that ‘political farmers’ were dominating almost everywhere in the country for selfish reasons, the development he said was scaring real farmers to go for farm inputs.

Tanimu at the occasion urged government at all levels to outline measures that will rekindle the confidence of farmers in farming during post-coronavirus.

He explained that most of the farmers need support from government and stakeholders especially in the area of farm inputs.

“Government and relevant stakeholders should ensure that stimulus packages get to farmers to enhance the production of food locally so as to curtail feminine and inflation.

“The inputs that farmers need should be provided to them in time so that it will assist them meet up with their activities.”

He said there must be concerted efforts in building a robust agricultural system which will bring about an economy that is focused on empowering communities and generate jobs for the populace.

Tanimu acknowledged the effort of the present administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari, in the area of agriculture which according to him, has prioritized the agricultural and rural development sector.

“The effort of President Muhammadu Buhari, in the agricultural sector has given consequential certainty in times of uncertainty. “It would have been uncontrollable disaster if the onslaught of the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19 caught up with us in a state of poor agricultural output, where our country and economy was massively dependent on imported food to feed the populace”

The FFCET president said despite the endless commitment of government to revamp agriculture, more measures have to be evolved to discover opportunities that would drive innovation in farming.

He said that if farmers are not appropriately empowered it will heightens global economic and political upheaval.

The unprecedented conditions caused by COVID-19 pandemic, he said called for renewed struggle by all key players in the agriculture sector.

According to him, the onslaught and spread of COVID-19 will most likely leave behind completely a different world if the nations of the world had learnt the right lessons.

The disrupted global supply chains will likely lead to shortages of food stuffs with the attendant increase in the prices of food.

In his submission: “the world economy will badly affect most businesses that are currently laying off their staff for lack of earnings and oil price which they said has become unpredictable.”

The situation he said called for innovations and synergy in agricultural sector.

He, therefore, suggested some ways that might solve the challenges of food production, farm inputs and other possible areas.

Tanimu said some of the solutions include pragmatic and proactive ways in order to help the farmers discover the evolving opportunities that would be driven by innovation in farming and value addition.

Other areas he listed are: subsidy in agriculture to enhance optimal productivity, creating easy access to intervention funds specially tailored towards the reach of rural farmers, mechanized farming and storage facility for farmers to control waste.

“Creating ease of access to intervention funds specially tailored to the reach of rural farmers, would contribute to sourcing and acquisition of agricultural inputs, farm management, harvesting, post harvest processing and storage should be designed in such a way that align with farming seasons,” he said.

He called for the establishment of a unified framework for systemic delivery of extension services to farmers across the country.

According to him, with the anticipated exigencies of the post- COVID-19 world in view of attending new ways of doing business and given the centrality of agricultural productivity in the emerging scheme of things federal government should evolve measures that will support farmers.

Tanimu said: “the federal government through the ministry of agriculture should take necessary measures to expand the scope and content of their field and extension services in order to educate farmers on new methods of agriculture and application of requisite technology.”

He urged farmers to focus on new agriculture programmes, by heeding to rules and regulations that will boost farming across all levels.

The FFCET president commended the Central Bank of Nigeria for its Anchor Borrowers program, Nirsa Micro Finance Bank and the federal ministry of agriculture for innovations in farming.

He therefore called on farmers to see farming as the best way to provide a healthy living for all Nigerians.

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