CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWN WILL LEAD RO JOB, INCOME LOSSES, FOOD SHORTAGES AND INFLATION,MINISTER WARNS

The restriction in movement of people and goods is beginning to impact on Nigeria’s food supply chain and may lead to job and income losses, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, has said.

Nanono said this at the COVID-19/Food Supply Chains Inter-Ministerial Policy Response Meeting in Abuja on Monday.

The minister said it was therefore important for government institutions to come up with solutions that would permit easy access to the food supply chain in Nigeria.

The inter-ministerial team is made up of the ministries of Defence, Police Affairs and Interior.

He said the disruptions of economic activities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic were glaring and the threats to domestic food supply chains were emerging in many countries.

The minister said, “More worrisome is the fact that the COVID-19 crisis could potentially spark a food security crisis in Africa, with agricultural production potentially contracting in 2020 and 2021.

“In Nigeria, movement restrictions of people and goods are starting to impact on food processors, traders, trucking and logistics in the food supply chains.

“And the cumulative impact could result in loss of income and jobs which would, in turn, reduce people’s ability to buy food and compensate farmers for their production.”

The minister stressed that such restrictions, if not adequately managed, could also impact negatively on rural communities that are dependent on access to inputs to produce crops and access to markets for their output across the country.

“The knock-on effect of this is an increase in costs and availability of food items in urban areas,” Nanono added.

He noted that although the government had devised an approach to mitigate threats to food security, his ministry would have to work closely with relevant organs of government to ensure appropriate food policy responses.

Some of the responses, according to Nanono, include ensuring that transportation of food and agricultural inputs were unhindered by the restriction of movements so that supply chains stay open and functional.

The minister said his ministry would incorporate food management systems to eliminate or reduce the risk of food surfaces and food packaging materials from becoming contaminated.

He said, “This interactive meeting involving key government institutions, including the ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development, Defence, Interior and Police Affairs is expected to discuss issues, challenges and innovative solutions that would permit easy access for the food supply chain across the country.

“This is in line with the broader government’s objective of ensuring a healthy and food secured nation in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Copyright PUNCH.

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