By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
Following the outbreak of Coronavirus, COVID-19, in the country, a group called Agric Bureau, Thursday, called for synergy of agro-business investors to synergise in order to avoid looming food supply crises.
Speaking on the need for agribusiness stakeholders to develop and implement strategies that will keep the food supply chain working during turbulent times as coronavirus outbreak, National Coordinator Officer, Agric Bureau, Suleiman Dikwa, said particular interest in producing competitive products in quality and quantity through the engagement of critical stakeholders in the agro-industry has become imperative for a coordinated approach for the expected productivity in the sector.
Dikwa said there is a need for all stakeholders in the sector “to put on our thinking caps and come up with solutions that fit our circumstances, some may say we cannot shutdown 90 per cent of our people earns daily.”
According to him, Agric Bureau is a group of indigenous Agro Business investors set up to address the constraints faced by investors in the agribusiness segment, with a particular interest in producing competitive products in quality and quantity through the engagement of critical stakeholders in the agro-industry.
He cautioned that if uncoordinated production and distribution of food continue without action to change the narrative it may lead to unnecessary hardship of citizens.
He said:“If we fail to act now, we may be facing a crisis in food supplies as we have never seen before.
“The simple choice we have is to allow the uncoordinated production and distribution of foodstuff to continue or to take action.
“If we do nothing, it will likely lead to food shortages for large portions of the population, extreme inflation of food prices and massive food waste.
“Therefore, it is urgent that we immediately identify key players in the food supply chain, track levels of food availability and manage supply and distribution. This will require better linkages between users and producers.”
He also expressed concern and the need to move fast to salvage any possible shortage of food supplies, “Agric Bureau desires to work with all like-minded stakeholders throughout Nigeria’s Agriculture Industry to develop and implement strategies that will keep the food supply chain working during these turbulent times.
“Having worked with farmers across all of Nigeria’s regions, food manufacturers and exporters, we believe it is time to organize ourselves to avoid a crisis in the food supply of our nation. This is an opportunity to bring key stakeholders to the table to rationalize activities and keep the food chains flowing.
“We need to bring in all active players in the Agriculture and allied industry, the pharmaceutical companies, the logistics companies into an emergency mode and develop a strategy to keep our supply chain running.
“We need to put business as usual aside and direct all resources to develop solutions. What is our capacity to deliver water to our people? Fortunately, we have been providing water to our selves, so how do we make it clean and safe.
“How do we quickly turn our flower gardens into food gardens and our aquariums into hydroponics? We are getting into panic mode without thinking and acting.
“We are shutting down systems without concurrently redirecting resources into quickly developing alternative production and supply chains of critical resources.
“How do keep our ports running, how do we get the thousand and one agencies off our ports and get a manageable number and automate the systems to keep them running.”
He further stated that “First of all there have to be farm camps, where only people working on the farms are isolated. If you have people on the farm let them stay there.
“The logistics can be worked out with drop-offs and pickups. We don’t know where this will go if you have any kind of space to begin cultivation. If you live in the city vertical agriculture or hydroponics.
“We need to take data of resources within our geographical area. If we shut down and the food chain stops, it will kill more people than the virus.
“We need to organise ourselves online and allocate responsibilities. Leaders have to emerge and organise people to keep the supply chain working. In other places, their problem is the capacity and pace of replacement. They have storage capacity.
“We need to dehydrate and pasteurize food items we can. If we fail to act now, we may be facing a crisis in food supplies as we have never seen before.”