The Niger state Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP-AF), has disclosed that COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down its ability to give farmers inputs for the 2020 farming season.
The Programme Coordinator, Dr Matthew Ahmed stated this in Bida local government area, during an awareness creation programme on COVID-19 for VCDP beneficiaries.
He explained that farmers have not been able to redeem their inputs and not fully started farming activities because of the fear of contracting the virus.
“Farmers that are supposed to redeem inputs because the pandemic has slowed down our actions in giving out inputs.
“We are organizing this programme to assure the farmers and processors that they will access their inputs but that does not prevent them from going out to get their inputs at the redemption centres and to encourage them to go to their farms to apply these inputs.”
Ahmed stated that most of the farmers were still scared of going to their farms for the fear of contracting the virus, adding that this had become a challenge for them to begin the planting season.
“If farmers continue to avoid going to farm or coming out for market transaction and we refuse to address this, it will affect food security and make food to become very scarce in the state and nation.”
He said that the awareness programme would take place in eight local government areas where about 250 farmers and processors, would be sensitized to go back to their communities to step down what they have learnt to their members.
In her address, the Resource Person, a Public Health Physician in the Federal Medical Center, Bida, Dr Eunice Madu lamented that cases of COVID-19 were increasing across the state because people have been abusing the precautionary measures.
She said that community transmission is becoming a big challenge because a lot of people were not obeying the laid down precautions by government.
Madu stressed that COVID-19 will be with the people for a long time and they can go ahead with their activities without contacting the virus if they follow the precautionary measures.
She insisted on social and physical distancing and wearing of face masks whenever the farmers go to public places.
One of the beneficiaries, Alhaji Mustapha Ndanusa said that this is the first time that he had received sensitization on COVID-19, adding that with what he heard, he now has the confidence to begin his farming.
Another beneficiary, a Cassava farmer, Amina Musa said that they had always been told that there is no COVID-19 but she now believes that COVID-19 is real and can be prevented if the laid down precautions are followed.