The Federal Government will soon inaugurate a joint task force to ensure unrestricted movement of farm produce across Nigeria.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, made this known in a 10-point communiqué issued at the end of a meeting on Emergency Response to COVID-19 on Monday in Abuja.
The meeting was attended by the Ministers of Defence, Interior and Police Affairs, Gen. Bashir Magaji, Rauf Aregbesola and Mohammed Dingyadi, respectively, among other stakeholders.
Nanono said it was resolved that law enforcement agents under the guidance of the four ministries would set up joint technical task team to draw guidelines for proper operation.
According to him, the guidelines will ensure proper operation of grains markets, livestock and poultry markets and dealers and sellers of agriculture inputs during the pandemic.
He also noted that the ministry of agriculture would work with various farmers’ associations, crop producers association, poultry associations and tractor services associations.
He added that the move was to help design mechanisms for providing special passes to be recognised by security agencies to facilitate free movement of perishable food items, farm inputs, livestock and fish.
Nanono pointed out that the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) would be engaged in the task force strategy.
“A Joint Technical Task Force to work with state commissioners of Police, commandants of Civil Defence Corps and other senior military officials to respond rapidly to reported logjam involving foodstuff or livestock.
“The four ministers will convene a periodic review meeting to assess the situation and advise the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
“This opportunity should not be used to transport contraband items including illicit drugs, arms and ammunition,” he said.
The minister said the resolutions of the meeting would be communicated to the Chairman, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
He further noted that the resolutions would be “communicated to the Chairman of Governors’ Forum and Chairman of ALGON for further action.
“Security agencies at all levels should work within the framework of COVID-19 Emergency Action Response Plan to develop modalities for easy movement of foodstuff, livestock and farm inputs.
“Relevant security agencies should work with clear instructions and directives at various checkpoints to facilitate passage of vehicles conveying agricultural products without compromising national security or health measures.
“Law enforcement agents should liaise with local governments and state officials in determining modalities for facilitating movement of foodstuff to and from markets during the lockdown.”
Nanono said the resolutions had become necessary to facilitate free movement of food and agricultural inputs nationwide to avoid food shortages and ensure 2020 production season was not hampered.
He commended the ministers of Defence, Interior and Police Affairs for honouring his invitation and the support they agreed to give the initiative.