By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja

The Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development, Defence, Police Affairs and Interior, Monday, collaborated and resolved to facilitate easy movement of foodstuff, livestock and farm inputs across the country within the lockdown period to contain the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic.

This was contained in a communiqué after a meeting of Ministers of the four Ministries at the Headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture in Abuja.

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Some of the resolutions in the communiqué include security officials at the federal and state levels should work within the framework of the Federal COVID-19 Emergency Response Plan; Relevant security agencies should work in a coordinated way; Law enforcement agents should liaise with local government and state officials; Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and law enforcement agents; Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development working with various farmers associations, crop producers association, poultry, association, tractor services association to design a mechanism of providing special passes; National Union of Road Transport Workers be engaged in the task force strategy, and others.

The Communiqué reads in part: “Nigeria like the rest of the world is currently facing the challenge of COVID-19 pandemic which was necessitated a presidential directive on lockdown restricting movement within and across states considered as the epicenter of the infection in Nigeria, namely Lagos, Ogun, and FCT.

“This lockdown directive has similarly been given by various state governments in an effort to prevent community transmission of this disease within their respective states.

“Hence the need to put in place a strategy in order to facilitate free movement of food and agriculture nationwide to avoid food shortages and ensure 2020 production season is not hampered.

“After thorough deliberations, the meeting resolved and agreed as follows;

  1. that security agency agencies officials at states and federal levels should work within the framework of the Federal COVID-19 Emergency Action Response Plans with relevant law enforcement agencies to develop modalities of ensuring easy movement of foodstuff, livestock and farm inputs.
  2. that the relevant security agencies should work in a coordinated way with clear instructions and directives to law enforcement agents at the various checkpoints to facilitate the passage of vehicles conveying foodstuff, perishable farm products, livestock, and farm inputs without compromising national security or health measures;
  3. that law enforcement agents should liaise with local government and state officials in determining modalities for facilitating the movement of foodstuff to and from markets during the lockdowns;
  4. that Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and law enforcement agents under the guidance of the four Ministers set up technical task team to draw guidelines for ensuring the safe operations of farmers/grains markets, livestock and poultry markets, dealers and sellers of agricultural inputs during the COVID-19 crisis;

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  1. that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development working with various farmers associations, crop producers association, poultry association, tractor services association, to design mechanisms of providing special passes to be recognized by the security agencies to facilitate free movement of foodstuff, perishables, farm inputs, livestock and fish;
  2. that the National Union of Road Transport Workers be engaged in the task force strategy;
  3. that the joint technical task team to work with State Commissioners of Police, Commandant of Civil Defence Corps, and other senior military officials in the State to respond rapidly to any reported logjam involving foodstuff or livestock;
  4. that this opportunity should not be used to transport contraband items including illicit drugs, arms and ammunition;
  5. that the four Ministers should convene a periodic review meeting to assess the situation and advice the chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
  6. that the resolutions of this meeting will, in turn be communicated to the Chairman, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Chairman of Governors’ Forum, Chairman of ALGON for information and further action.

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