Covid-19: Rural farmers exempted from Plateau lockdown resuming Monday

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Central Nigerian authorities, Wednesday extended a total lockdown in Plateau State to 14 days, from seven days effective last week Friday.

A statewide break from Thursday 16th April 2020, to Sunday 19th April 2020, has been approved “to enable people go out to restock their homes,” said the Governor of the State, Mr. Simon Lalong.

Farmers, “particularly in the rural areas” are however exempted from the lockdown resuming Monday, said Lalong.

“They are required to go to their farms now that the rains have started. However, they are to observe all guidelines for social distancing and hygiene,” the Governor said in a State broadcast.

Suppliers of food such as bread, water and beverages are also exempted, said the Governor. Only medical workers, journalists, securities and fumigation staff were previously exempted from the restrictions.

The Northern Governors Forum on Mondaya said “total lockdown” of the region would come at a “very high cost” for local economy.

“Most citizens are farmers who need to go to farm since the rains have started,” said Governor Simon Lalong who is the NFG Chairman.

According to the World Bank, of Nigeria’s nearly 200 population, about 70% live in rural and semiurban areas where agriculture is the main economic source.

These farmers who include high income earning urban dwellers provide majority of staples and raw materials consumed in the country.

A lockdown waiver for farmers in the internationally reputed Irish potato farming Plateau State is perhaps a positive move for food security.

Other factors causing low crop/livestock productivity such as low input use, high lands use intensity, diseases/pests/weeds, drought and poor institutional development might soon be tackled through structural and infrastructural policy developments.

The Northern Governors in their first teleconference on Monday set up a seven-man Committee chaired by Governor of Kebbi State, Mr. Atiku Abubakar Bagudu “to holistically look at the economic prospects of the region with a view to repositioning it for less reliance on Federal Allocation.”

The committee will “prepare for the future by diversifying to areas of comparative advantage such as agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and human capital development,” says a statement by the NGF Chairman’s Press Director, Simon Macham.

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