Covid-19: VFS calls for extension of grants to poor farmers

Coalition of Civil Society Organisations under the auspices of Voices For For Security has called on Presidential Task Force on COVID 19 to ensure that the small household grants is extended to poor farmers at scale to enable them stay afloat.

Saying in this uncertain period, effort should be made to ensure that these reach real male and female farmers.

The group also accused Nigeria Police of intimidation, saying this is affecting farmers ability to access inputs, especially in States far away from ports where trailers have to travel long distances in order to reach farmers. “This is especially important as we consider the needs of farmers in the rainy season planting period.”

The groups which consists of Oxfam Nigeria, Right to Food Group, in a statement signed by Prof Gbolagade Ayoola, urged the Ministries of Agriculture at State and Federal levels, as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria, to consider facilitating agricultural insurance especially for small scale farmers in order to forestall losses occasioned by climate change induced flood, drought, erosion, etc.

Commending the government for the measures taken to cushion the effects of the lockdown on the country, it however express concerns on the silence of the government on how smallholder farmers who have already suffered losses can be compensated.  

“We observe that these palliative and recovery windows may well work for the manufacturing and other sectors, but we are concerned that they do not adequately cover the needs of agricultural sector stakeholders let alone meet the nations needs of smallholder farmers who presently face the challenge of feeding the nation during the lockdown and immediately afterwards. 

‘Agriculture has been termed a key sector for years, but none of the relief efforts explicitly take note of the issues facing agricultural sector stakeholders. Farmers Associations are not strictly termed as SMEs, so will likely not be eligible for SME financing from the CBN. Yet, these funds are very much needed.

“While we understand the reason for the lockdowns, we believe that people are a vulnerable group that need to be taken care of in this time.  Farmers, already hampered by challenges with access to market and the lowest levels of access to finance of any key sector in normal times, now find it even more difficult to sell their harvests in a period marked by lockdowns in many of States. This is affecting incomes of local farmers, and driving more people into poverty,” it said.

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