The Federal Government has been advised on the need to, as a matter of preventing the looming food crisis in the country, reduce the Value Added Tax (VAT) on agricultural equipment imported to the country.
An agribusiness expert and founder of Farmkonnect, a foremost multi-dimensional agric firm in Nigeria, Mr. Oluwole Azeez, disclosed this in Ibadan.
While commenting on the impending food crisis looming in the country as a result of lull in farming activities caused by the pandemic, he warned that the global Coronavirus pandemic may trigger a “looming food crisis,” if urgent and drastic measures are not taken by the respective stakeholders.
Azeez, whose career in agriculture, spanned 20 years, noted that lots of farmers are locked up in the house because of the Coronavirus, except the ones who are in villages that could move around.
His words: “What we don’t know is this, the food we are eating in 2020 is the food we harvested in 2019. 2021 hunger is looming. The only grace I’m seeing is that the rain is not at its peak. We may be fortunate to have the rain extended to early next year. So, maybe we can still key into that. That is even if rain will be plenty.”
“The climate change now is almost permutation. So, COVID-19 is going to have serious impacts on food security. Except we come in and attack it and reduce the impact. It is just a mitigation. That, there won’t be food scarcity next year I doubt it , except the miracle that happened in the Bible happens. Food scarcity is imminent because people are not farming. They are at home.
“A lot of farmers have jettisoned farming. Some people farmed, harvested but lost all their harvests. Where do they get to start again? Except government intervenes for those kind of people. Some people have eaten their capital which they are supposed to buy seeds to farm. You cannot be hungry and be attending to any other case. So, they have eaten the capital and those guys may either scale down on production or out of business.”
“These are the issues with small holders farmers. Even some big agribusiness companies said they have distress because of this COVID-19. I didn’t plan there will be COVID-19, but because I was scaling up, I stopped production in February to give space for renovations and other things. So, we have challenges moving our consignment from the port I need to go and buy my trailers.”
“Now, imagine what happens to a person who doesn’t have money to buy trailers.”
“Hunger is looming. Farmers, small holders need to get back on their feet. Not everybody will be big enough to call the commissioner or director and request for passes.”
“In Nigeria, it becomes more important to provide support to production systems across value chains towards mitigating the impact of this pandemic,” Azeez added.