Impact of the novel corona virus (COVID-19) on agricultural productivity in Nigeria

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel corona virus outbreak a pandemic in January, 2020. This has caused a lot of economic down turns, bringing activities to a complete halt and invariably affecting the agricultural sector of the nation. As people continue to adapt and live on a new lifestyle brought about this outbreak, there are serious concerns as to if it would affect the production of food in the country especially the facts that the peak of the farming season for year 2020 is fast approaching by June.

The novel corona virus is on an increasing spread nationwide in Nigeria, with a total confirmed cases of about 4787 as of the 12th of May, 2020 (Nigeria Centre for Disease control (NCDC)) leading the nation to take actions such as the total and or partial shutdown of States; closure of borders, suspension of flights and interstate travels to limit the spread of COVID-19. These measures as helpful as it may be in limiting or preventing the further spread of the pandemic, has it’s own economic detriment. There have been reports of mass unemployment, shortages of food and medical supplies all over the nation.

COVID-19 is also disrupting many activities in agriculture and supply of food. Majority of the food produced in Nigeria mostly come from subsistent farmers who sell their excess to consumers. In other words, Nigeria is heavily depended on these farmers for their food supplies. Though, the Federal Government has given directives to allow services such as food and agriculture (farming and production of food) to be declared as essential services, giving them way of right for movements within locations under strict conditions.Despite declaring agriculture an essential service, the lock down is a constricting factor in hindering the full strength of the nation’s agricultural productivity. There are major disruptions in the supply chains because of transportation restrictionsespecially on the interstate traveling suspension imposed by the government of Nigeria. Prices of food products have skyrocketed making consumers to pay more for the value of little. Various streams under the Agricultural sector are constantly being affected by the impact of deadly virus.

The Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) has estimated the negative impact of the restrictions as adversely affecting the poultry industry and the ability of producers to meet dietary target of Nigerians this season. The PAN President, Ezekiel Ibrahim, buttressed that the interstate movement restrictions imposed by the government would worsen the food supply chain of the country (Business Day 2020). The poultry industry is at risks of collapsing due to the effects of COVID 19. Restriction on the movementof vehicles conveying critical poultryand food products like Day-Old-Chicks (DOCs), Meat and Eggs, Poultry feeds and drugs and vaccinations, which are essentially needed by producers is causing more harm than good to the Agric sector of Nigeria.

Nigeria, a developing nation, is at the brink of decreased food production and increase demands come 2021 owing to the facts that the pandemic is obstructing the smooth running of farms mainly keeping producers at limited movement and acquisition of farming inputs. Most of the food supplies depended on currently are the ones that have already been produced the previous year. Recently, the World Food Programme (WFP) warns that the corona virus pandemic will push an additional 130 million people to the risk of starvation. This is troubling considering also the price of food is constantly increasing in the country. Already, there is a reduction of farm produce in the first quarter of this year.If the pandemic continues further and various laws are not enacted to allow the free movement and activities of producers and produce in the second quarter of the year 2020, especial from rural areas where most of the bulk of agriculture produce come from to urban locations, food production may experience a sharp reduction rate this year to as much as 50% if it is not checked. Looking at the farming stream of the Agricultural sector, the National President of All Farmers Association of Nigeria. Ibrahim Kabiru rightly noted that “We are going to experience food scarcity next year if the government fails to act now”.

The newly described COVID 19 is having a huge negative impact on the agricultural sector in Nigeria and is predicted to continue in year 2021 due to the aftermaths of the virus if the Federal Government of Nigeria does not initiate an urgent intervention program to assist in the production of food which is fundamental and essential to human survival and sustenance.

By Nwakanma Victor T.

Further reading

Business Day (3rd April, 2020), (https://businessday.ng/agriculture/article/poultry-industry-at-risk-of-collapse-over-lockdown-farmers-lament/)

Josephine Okojie (2020). Nigeria faces high risk of food insecurity amid corona virus spread in north. Business Day 2020(https://businessday.ng/agriculture/article/nigeria-faces-high-risk-of-food-insecurity-amid-coronavirus-spread-in-north/)

World Health Organization (WHO) 2020 Do you have any comments or suggestions on how to improve and get agriculture going these trying times? We would be happy to hear from you, please feel free to send us an email of what you think.