Agriculture over time has proven to be man’s crudest form of security. When there is food, there is life- not the guns, not the knives and blades, but food, because with it comes peace. An army marches on its stomach- Napoleon Hill 1970. This further shows the importance of food in every Economy.
The Emergence of COVID-19 also known as Coronavirus has shaken every Nation to its core and much greater attention has been focused on it, causing a shift in the order of priorities. COVID-19 is a virus that has been identified as dangerous and spreads via contact with an infected person through handshakes, close contact, and exchange of fluid. The COVID-19 virus is spurring dramatic changes to global economies, healthcare, logistics, education, sport, and multinational businesses.
Beyond the impact on these sectors, It is not yet a catastrophe until it affects local and global food security and the ability to provide safe, affordable, and nutritious food as well as sufficient income for people working in the agricultural sector. The agricultural sector in every nation, especially in Nigeria, serves undeniably as one of the foremost pillars holding the nation together. It, therefore, would be dangerous for things to fall apart in that sector.
In a country where the entire system of food production processes, from planting to post-harvest handling ,are not on par compared to the system in some developing countries, and 80% of the farmers are Smallholder farmers that produce a substantial percentage of the food consumed by its people. The question is, what would it look like if the advent of this virus affects the agricultural sector or even gets to the vulnerable farmers themselves? A zombie apocalypse or now that we do not have enough food preservation infrastructure for the food produced already, is this a pointer towards famine or looming food crisis?
We know COVID-19 would eventually retreat, but we don’t know how fast this will happen. It is now a silent war between hunger versus Virus “The extent to which COVID-19 will affect the food market is conditional upon countries staying calm even in the face of supply chain hiccups and not resorting to protective beggar-thy-neighbor policies”- Hussain-World Food Program.
The breakout of such virulent specie of COVID-19 is somewhat unusual and it affects significant elements of both food supply and demand; illness-related labor shortages, transport interruptions, quarantine measures limiting access to markets and supply chain disruptions resulting in food loss and waste could affect supply. And on the demand side, a loss of purchasing power caused by the disease could change eating patterns for citizens, resulting in poorer nutrition. Panic purchases of food – like those recently witnessed in countries around the world – could break the supply chain and cause localized price hikes.
In the past weeks, people have recently taken to Twitter to analyze the announcement of the United Arab Emirates where the country stated categorically the ability to fend for her citizens and provide adequate welfare for months if COVID-19 strikes, same as the United States and United kingdom, these in Comparison to Nigeria’s management of the Virus spreading fast are on parallel sides. The question then is, if every other thing shuts down, how do we protect the agricultural space?
There are obvious answers looking us directly in the face which we have chosen to ignore before the markets hit us low at this trying time, it is our responsibility to be patriotic and considerate. A lockdown season as this requires lockdown measures that Nigerians have taken for granted.
Food production is unclear and will depend on how long the pandemic and countermeasures last, widespread food shortages are unlikely anytime soon, several researchers say. Agriculture is considered essential work under the shelter-in-place orders expanding across the country. Farmers must still adhere to social distancing requirements and can be buffeted by regulations and other changes along the food supply chain, such as the shutdown of markets and public trading places, food spots/restaurants.
Currently, there are stories, frights, and panic in the pandemic over what the future holds, but it really could be a better one if certain protocols and principles are put in place for Agriculture to hold topmost priority after the search for COVID-19 Vaccine.
In solving a foreseeable problem like this, it is safe to say that farmers can still plant if they are in good health and adequate funds are made available for planting procedures and food preservation. In light of this, various opportunities have come in view and have been established by Agritech companies in the country to ease transactions between farmers and customers. Amongst them is CashCard as developed by Crop2Cash.
CashCard is a digital financial platform that allows a farmer to pay and get paid without going to the bank. A registered farmer does not need to worry about having access to financial services or having improved yields after harvest. With CashCard, a farmer can have access to farm inputs like fertilizer, machinery, and seeds for planting and also to market whereby they get to sell their produce to processors. Account opening on CashCard is easy and this is usually done within five (5) minutes by a registered CashCard agent. Cashcard is a digital means of payment, it encourages Social distancing especially at this moment where social distancing is a lifeline for the survival of this pandemic
Our work at Crop2Cash to provide agricultural solutions to reduce hunger in the world has not stopped. The virus has stopped some of us from going to our workplaces, but it hasn’t stopped our work.
Read also: Ways We Can Contribute to Food Security