Globally, the novel coronavirus pandemic has caused major disruptions in the food supply chain, as it has affected some major vehicles on which the agricultural sector rides and thrives since the outbreak. Accessing the farms to tend the crops became a challenge, as many countries went on lockdown restricting the movement of workers and disrupting other business and economic activities. This was done to stem the spread of the virus.
Now that the lockdown has been relaxed and farmers can move to the farms, some crops are already late for planting, this year and that means that we might suffer some food shortages next year, if nothing is done in earnest. The fear of the food shortage is not only restricted to Nigeria alone but the whole of the African continent.
This was echoed by former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo and aptly captured on the Salvo strip on the back page of The Punch Newspaper of June 9, 2020, when he was quoted to have said, “I think we have to take the issue of post-COVID-19 seriously. I believe most African governments have to find how to be self-sufficient in essential food items for the food crisis likely to be experienced and I don’t think most African countries have gone far, as they should go into food production this year.”
According to a report obtained from the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the world population will hit 9.1 billion by 2050 and to feed that number of people, global food production will need to grow by 70 per cent.
For Africa, which is projected to be home to about two billion people by then, farm productivity must accelerate at a faster rate than the global average to avoid continued mass hunger.
Before crude oil was discovered and became the mainstay of the Nigerian economy, agriculture was the top source of revenue for the country and was the major contributor to Nigeria’s GDP.
Cash crops, like cocoa, groundnuts, palm oil, rubber, cashew, etc., were exported to generate the required revenue for the country. After crude oil was, however, discovered, agriculture was relegated to the background and this, probably accounted for little or nothing done, to process these agricultural products into finished goods that would have commanded more revenue inflow.
In Nigeria, many farmers are still having it rough, accessing essential mechanized farming tools, improved seeds, fertilizer and agro-chemical products, which are highly essential to enhance productivity. Not much research findings are being shared with the farmers in Nigeria to enable them to be more productive in yielding more tonnes in harvest per hectare of field planted.
According to a report by Mckinsey and Company, Sub-Saharan Africa, will need eight times more fertilizer, six times more improved seed, at least $8 billion of investment in basic storage, (not including cold-chain investments for horticulture, or animal products) and as much as $65bn irrigation to fulfill its agricultural promise. The report, also, stated that 60 per cent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is smallholder farmers and about 23 — Finish Reading on the Punch