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Post COVID-19: Nigerian Govt should focus on agriculture, boost local production- ARMTI boss

The Executive Director/CEO of Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI), Dr Olufemi Oladunni, has called on the government to boost local production in order to mitigate the adverse effect of COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.
This advise became necessary following the dwindling global oil price which is currently threatening global economy, including Nigeria. 
Dr Oladunni also said encouraging consumption of locally produced goods through taxes and tariffs would also go a long way in sustaining the economy during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Dr Oladunni during a media chat recently, said diversifying the nation’s economy from oil into other sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, solid minerals would also sustain the economy.
“For a nation like Nigeria which depends so much on earnings from the sale of crude oil therefore, this implies dwindling national revenue which will result in poor funding of key sectors of the economy like agriculture, health, education, infrastructure and consequently, lead to more deplorable conditions in the livelihood of citizens. 
“This means that there is an urgent need for Nigeria, more than ever, to diversify its economy to alternative sectors where we have comparative advantage particularly, agriculture which has been the mainstay of our economy even before the discovery of oil”, he said.
When asked how government can assist farmers access inputs during the lockdown period, he said agricultural agencies were available for farmers to access for essential services.
“Agencies such as ARMTI, National Seed Council and other establishments that service the agricultural sector are up and running and available for farmers and other stakeholders to access for the essential services they provide. 
In addition, the government has set-up fertilizer blending plants in country to ease access to the very important farm input”, he said.
On the social distancing directive from the government and the steps to be taken to ensure that agriculture is not hampered, Dr Oladunni said “naturally, agricultural activities obey social distancing principle. In addition, the government has categorized agricultural activities as essential service.
“These should be allowed to go on despite the current lockdown but, with strict adherence to the safety principles of hand washing, social distancing and use of personal protective wears such as face mask, hand gloves.
“The only aspect that requires help at this time is marketing. Farmers and stakeholders in agricultural commodity value chain need to request for help on storage from government agencies such as National Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI).
“Moreover, now is the time for agricultural practitioners to explore the innovation that social media provides for the marketing of their produce. Thankfully, transportation of food products havs also been exempted from the lockdown”.

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