By Ebun Babalola
As part of its efforts to alleviate the ardent effect of HIV/AIDS in the country, the Lagos State Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development has embarked on an extensive training aimed at brainstorming farmers, other extension officers as well as agriculture rural change agents on the impact ofÂ HIV/AIDS such that they take the campaign to the grassroots farmers as they proceed on their farming activities.
The programme also focused on the use of HIV/AIDS extension guide and sensitizing women in agriculture on HIV/AIDS prevention, behaviourial change, care and support
In a 7-hour brainstorming seminar delivered by the Lagos State AIDS Control Agency, LSACA, Project Manager Yakub Basorun, said, HIV/AIDS related problems in farming communities can also be prevented just like any other diseases including, pest or cropping on the field. Adding that, the message on HIV/AIDS can be disseminated to other farmers especially at the grassroots by farmers who have benefitted from the intensive training.
â€œIt is only the women leaders in agriculture who can also help their female counterparts with information on HIV/AIDS, he said.
The seminar which was well attended by farmers in Lagos State explained the adverse effects of HIV/AIDS on agriculture and rural development are manifested primarily as malnutrition, loss of labour supply, of on_ and off_farm income and of assets.
Speaking on the theme: â€œExtension Guide on HIV/AIDS, Nutrition, Agriculture Extension and Care and Support, Basorun said, failure to adhere to this guide can contribute to reduced productivity, yields and agricultural output.
He stated that the relationship between food and HIV/AIDS creates a vicious cycle that weakens the immune system. Adding that persons with HIV/AIDS are at increased risk of malnutrition through various mechanisms. â€œPoor nutrition increases susceptibility to opportunistic infection and accelerates the progression of the disease.
Immune system uses more energy and nutrient to fight infections when HIV/AIDS weakens the immune system, other infection start to manifest which also raise the need for nutrient ands energy. Worry and high anxiety about the disease further weakens the immune system leading to more need for nutrients to boost the immune system.
HIV and AIDS lowers food in-take. Infection and illness lead to poor appetite, mouth and throat infections which cause difficulties with eating. some medicines cause poor sense of taste as side effect. Depression, fear, and anxiety contribute to the loss of appetite, isolation may result from prejudice against people with HIV and AIDS because eating is a social event. Loneliness will affect the way a person eats.
He however opined that this divergence in opportunities is caused by large sector of the population in Africa that doesnâ€™t have access to the new crops and markets, coupled with an acute crisis of labour and tremendous dependence of households on single women and the elderly.
His words: â€œThis dichotomy between the impact of HIV/AIDS on agricultural production at the macro level and on household food, nutrition and livelihood security at the micro level needs to be borne in mind when addressing the adverse effects of HIV/AIDS on agriculture and rural development and when designing rural development policies and programmesâ€.
The seminar recorded over 150 people in attendance including the representatives of the Lagos State AIDS Control Agency, LSACA, Mrs. Akinola and Mrs. Oyenuga and Mrs. Ronke Afolabi, a person living with HIV/AIDS.
Fifty leaders women in agriculture from 20 local government development areas in Lagos State were also sensitized.