By Oluchi Chibuzor
The federal government has advised security agencies to work within the framework of the Federal COVID-19 Emergency Action Response Plan to ensuring easy movement of foodstuff, livestock and farm inputs.
The directive came as farmers and agro-related enterprises across the nation had said the lockdown ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari should have included agribusiness as part of essential services in the country.
This was stated in a communiqué signed by the Minister of Agricultural and Rural Development, Alhaji Mohammad Sabo Nanono, at the end of a meeting with Ministers of Defence, Interior and Police Affairs on Emergency Response to COVID-19.
The minister said Nigeria, like the rest of the world, is currently facing the challenge of the pandemic which necessitated a presidential directive on lockdown, restricting movement within and across states considered as epicentres of the infection in Nigeria namely Lagos, Ogun and FCT.
He said the resolutions had been communicated to the Chairman, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Chairman of Governors’ Forum and Chairman of ALGON for information and further action.
He, therefore, said there was the need to put in place a strategy to facilitate free movement of food and agricultural inputs nationwide to avoid food shortages and ensure 2020 production season was not hampered.
“That the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development working with various farmers’ associations, crop producers’ association, poultry associations, tractor services associations, to design mechanisms of providing special passes to be recognised by the security agencies to facilitate free movement of food stuff, perishables, farm inputs, livestock and fish.
“That a Joint Technical Task Team to work with States Commissioners of Police, Commandant of Civil Defence Corps and other senior Military officials in the States to respond rapidly to any reported logjam involving foodstuffs or livestock.
“That this opportunity should not be used to transport contraband items including illicit drugs, arms and ammunition and that the National Union of Road Transport Workers be engaged in the Task force strategy.
“That the four Ministers to convene a Periodic Review Meeting to assess the situation and advise the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19,” it stated.