The Lagos State chapter of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) has said its members lost about N10 million naira worth of investment on rice in 2020.
Otunba Femi Oke, Chairman of the AFAN Lagos Chapter, in a chat with newsmen on Wednesday explained that the inadequate rainfall which occurred in July last year in the state, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic coupled with the lockdown which led to the shutting down of farming activities contributed largely to the loss for farmers.
He said that as a result of the lockdown, most of the labourers who were working on the farm abandoned their work and left.
One of the affected farms, according to the chairman, was the rice plantation in Itokin area, Epe axis in the state.
He said: “The challenges we are having as at the COVID-19 last year, we had some losses as to our rice plantation in Itokin area, Epe axis in which we invested close to N10 million.
“Also, we have another one that is not far off. But as of the 2 July last year, there was no rain, the rain stopped, and it affected harvest, coupled with the COVID-19. Most of the labourers we were using last year could not work and so it has given us a lot of problems this year.”
As a result of the pandemic, President Muhammadu Buhari had on Monday, 13 April 2020, in his second address to the nation, directed Sabo Nanono, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development; Babagana Monguno, National Security Adviser; Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Vice Chairman, National Food Security Council and Governor of Kebbi State and Mohammed Badaru, Chairman Presidential Fertiliser Initiative and Jigawa State Governor, to work with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to ensure the impact of the pandemic on 2020 farming season was minimized.
Also, the Federal Government under the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and its various agricultural related financial lending institutions such as the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agriculture Lending (NIRSAL) in October last year rolled out soft loan schemes which amounted to about N75 billion to farmers who were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to have access to funds.
But down to the state level, Oke said the association did not receive any assistance whatsoever given out by the state government.
Also, in terms of response from the state on farmers who suffered losses during the pandemic, the chairman said they were directed to CBN and NIRSAL for assistance.
“We couldn’t get anything out of all the palliatives we were hearing, nothing has come to us.
“Of course, we complained to the government, we were always complaining on the social media to tell them our problems but they directed us to CBN and NIRSAL,” he said.
While this year’s farming season approaches, farmers may experience a turbulent season in regions where criminal activities such as kidnapping, attacks on farmlands by Fulani herdsmen are rampant, which may lead to distortion in farming activities in the country.