Prof. Veronica Obatolu, the Executive Director, IAR&T, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria in Ibadan on Friday asserted that this would help farmers to produce adequate and quality food.
Obatolu said this move had become imperative because the present crisis overwhelmingly showed the reality of the worries many Nigerians had about current food systems and strongly confirmed the need to fundamentally enhance the farmers.
She remarked that a strategic response should be formulated to adequately reshape future food systems and credit facilities and assistance were equally important in motivating the farmers, processors and other relevant stakeholders in various value chains of crops.
The executive director noted that COVID-19 crisis had also created new challenges for food systems, since they were both a cause and a consequence of the pandemic and this had made it important to reshape the food systems and think about access to safe food and healthy diets.
Obatolu noted that post-harvest losses was one of the biggest problems which affected economic growth globally, which includes, all points in the value chain from production in the field to the food being placed on a plate for consumption.
She said that with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, the country had experienced an unimaginable food loss, threatening food security and precipitating massive importation.
The executive director said that there should be proper and adequate planning of the activities and the sequences to achieve success.
She noted that COVID-19 pandemic was changing the way we lived and worked and agricultural sector was very important.
She said that government must ensure that farmers stayed strong through this unprecedented period.
Obatolu also advised small scale farmers to diversify their produce in order to avoid the high costs of production and gluts after production.
“They should also diversify their production to reduce glut in the markets and manage their land sustainably.
“For instance, all farmers do not need to produce same crops in a particular production area, whereas some other suitable crops are not neglected.
“Farmers should also bring innovations to their activities to make it different from what others are doing through various existing value chains,” she said.
Obatolu noted that for agriculture to stand its pride of place in the nation’s economy, government should look into the area of Extension Agents (AE) as the present ratio of AE to farmers is below the recommended numbers.
“The desire to achieve a ratio of one EA to 1,000 farmers is very far from being a reality
“They should adopt the World Bank standard ratio of one extension worker per 800 farmers in order to boost support for farmers and ensure food security,’’ she said.
She, however, commended the extension agent services in South West for living up to expectation.
Edited By: Hawa Lawal/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)
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