Farmers in Oyo state lamented over the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic on this year’s farming season, warning that urgent measures need to be taken to avert possible scarcity of food.
Mr David Ogundele, the Secretary, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Oyo State branch, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan on Thursday that though wet season farming should have started in earnest, many farmers had yet to begin.
Ogundele said that the global pandemic, which had necessitated restriction of movement to prevent transmission, had hindered access to the fund, farming inputs and even going to farms.
“Wet planting commenced in March; it will last till the end of April. Commodities involved are all arable crops such as maize, rice, yam, melon, among others.
“Also planting of vegetables, permanent crops at the nurseries take place at this time.
“Time is not on our side as the wet season will soon end. Dry planting season too may fail if care is not taken and we lack planting materials as well as finance.
“Now that all farmers are supposed to be on the farm to engage in wet farming, we cannot move. Time is not in our favour while farming is seasonal.
“Also, processing for funds at various banks for wet season farming could have been concluded by now but bank transactions standstill. We are yet to buy or have inputs such as fertilisers, herbicides and insecticides.
“All these are adequately needed to be on ground on farms at this time but with the present situation, we may experience scarcity of food which will affect all citizens if care is not taken,” he said.
The AFAN boss appealed to the State and Federal Governments to speedily and diligently tackle the Coronavirus outbreak in the country in order to return the country to normalcy with limited casualties.
He also appealed to Nigerians to cooperate with the government and comply with the guidelines given by health professionals including social distancing, regular hand washing and staying indoors to prevent transmission of the virus.
Ogundele advised the government to prioritise the return of farmers to the farm and provide access for finance and agricultural inputs immediately there was a curve in the COVID -19 graph and the lockdown lifted.
He further urged all farmers to support the government by complying with the guidelines put in place to curtail the spread of the virus while emphasising that health is wealth.
“We can only be strong before we can talk about farming and food production, so let us all maintain all adequate measures while we pray and hope on God to intervene,” Ogundele said.