The Nigerian Association of Agricultural Economists (NAAE) has expressed concern over alarming rise in prices of food items across the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement made by Prof. Job Nmadu, the National President of the association in Abuja, he said the pandemic had disrupted some vital agricultural activities. The 2019/2020 harvest, land preparations and planting for 2020 and 2021 season had been disrupted, which has led to the high cost of food items. Nmadu said this would lead to devastating conditions like starvation unless something was done by the government and relevant stakeholders urgently to forestall the situation.
According to him, “Prices of food items have risen sharply further making it difficult for most Nigerians to afford food items that would provide balanced nutrition. In order to avoid widespread hunger and starvation in 2021, the government must start working on strategies that would ensure that shortages are appropriately supplemented. In particular, post-harvest losses which are about 34 percent of harvest must be prevented as much as possible.”
Commenting on the other areas of life affected by the pandemic, he said the educational sector was one of the most hit. That it had become necessary for stakeholders to undertake robust consultations to give online schooling a priority in the country. He, therefore, called for more investment in Information Communication Technology (ICT). That most countries of the world are providing infrastructure for free Wi-Fi in public places, buildings, and educational institutions.
He also stated that it was not sustainable in Nigeria, for students and pupils to be expected to buy their data. That it would be necessary to include the provision of Wi-Fi as part of conditions for operating schools. “The long-term impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the socio-economic and cultural life of Nigeria and Nigerians is disturbing. The pandemic led to the closure of all educational institutions in the country since March 2020 and necessary measures must be taken to ensure that students do not lose out completely.” He added.
Nmadu called on relevant stakeholders for resolution of pending issues with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to ensure a win-win situation for all.
Reported by OLADIMEJI OGUNTOYINBO,
🌳FARMING NEWS TODAY,
WORLD FARMERS CENTRE.