With farmers recording losses due to movement restrictions, as Nigeria continues to battle the Covid-19 pandemic, ActionAid Nigeria (AAN) and women from the Small-Scale Women Farmers Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON) have called on the Nigerian government to take steps to avoid a hydra-headed crisis.
During a virtual press conference, the Country Director of ActionAid, Mrs. Ene Obi, and the President of SWOFON, Mrs Mary Afan, both affirmed that farmers are experiencing post-harvest losses of income and produce. In a jointly signed statement, the two organisations said, ‘As organisations working to eradicate poverty, promote social justice and gender equality, we have deemed it fit to draw the attention of the government to the continual loss of income and livelihoods in the agricultural sector especially for smallholder women farmers, arising from the continued lockdown and restriction of movement’.
‘As a result of the Covid-19 lockdown and lack of access to markets, farmers are experiencing massive post-harvest losses on fruits, vegetables, fresh products and other perishables. Smallholder women farmers are unable to move their products from their farms to the market or from their rural communities to semi-urban and urban markets. They are also losing income from staple food like maize, rice, wheat, potatoes, cassava, soybeans, yams, sorghum, and plantain, etc’, the AAN and SWOFON statement continued.
The two organisations also raised the issue of poultry farmers not having access to purchasing poultry feed for their farms, with aquaculture farmers also facing low patronage due to the stay-at-home orders issued by the government. According to AAN and SWOFON, small-scale women farmers were already faced with the challenge of low or no access to credit, essential inputs, improved seeds and seedlings, organic and non-organic fertilisers even before the current circumstances began to compound their challenges.
The AAN and SWOFON statement further said, ‘Being a planting season for farmers, it is pertinent to say that the food crisis is already looming in Nigeria. Currently, there is a food price crisis across the country, the poor and vulnerable are facing hunger and malnutrition, and this includes our smallholder women farmers’. The two organisations called on the government to announce policy interventions that would ensure sustained local food production and sales during the pandemic, adding that the circumstances presented an opportunity for Nigeria to become self-reliant in food production.
Source: This Day
Photo source: World Bank Photo Collection