James Emejo in Abuja
The Agriculture Bureau Association of Nigeria (ABAN) has called for a stakeholders’ consultative forum to rationalise initiatives to keep the country’s food chain running amidst the current challenges posed by the outbreak and spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The association’s Coordinator, Mr. Suleman Dikwa, warned that the inability to act could lead to a food crisis which will be unprecedented in the history of the country.
In a statement, he said failure to act could result in food shortage for a large proportion of the population including extreme inflation of food prices and massive food waste.
He said: “Having worked with farmers across all of Nigeria’s regions, food manufacturers and exporters, we believe it is time to organise ourselves to avoid a crisis in the food supply of our nation.
“This is an opportunity to bring key stakeholders to the table to rationalise activities and keep the food chain flowing.”
Dikwa, said the government would need to urgently identify key players in the food supply chain, track levels of food availability and manage supply and distribution as this would require better linkages between users and producers.
He said following a reduction in air travels by wealthy individuals and politicians, saving billions of dollars as well as the current determination by the government to cut waste, the country now has the potential to grow its own food and live healthier.
He stressed that: “We need to bring in all active players in the agriculture and allied industry, the pharmaceutical companies, the logistic companies into an emergency mode and develop a strategy to keep our supply chain running.”
Noting that the global public health crisis presented an opportunity to fine-tune activities in the agricultural sector in particular, Dikwa said: “We are shutting down systems without concurrently redirecting resources into quickly developing alternative production and supply chains of critical resources.
“How do we keep our ports running? How do we get a thousand and one agencies off our ports and get a manageable number and automate the systems to keep it running? Leaders have to emerge and organise people to keep the supply chain working.”