The COVID-19 pandemic is negatively impacting on agricultural production, especially among smallholder farmers, some farmers in Oyo State told HumAnge.
The farmers who interacted with HumAngle at an entrepreneurship training for youths in Oyo State, said the COVID-19 lockdown impacted negatively on crop production through loss of plantations, insect infestation and farmers’ inability to tend their crops.
The farmers said the situation had brought about shortages in income and led to their inability to repay loans obtained from microfinance banks and as well threatened food security.
A smallholder farmer, Mr Abideen Adeyemo, said COVID-19 compounded farmers’ problems and there was a need for palliatives to cushion its effects on them.
“We want the government to give us tractors, we need pesticides to spray on our crops as they are being ravaged by insects,” Adeyemo said.
He said some farmers who managed to spray hemicals to clear weeds were lucky as it had saved them money to hire labourers for weeding.
“We were lucky to be able to do this. Others who could not are suffering from insect infestations and so they would have low yield.
“Our produce is only preserved in our houses and we don’t have room enough while we wait for buyers to buy them. We want off-takers too as this will boost our business,” he said.
Another farmer, Mrs Modinat Okewole, said the effect of COVID-19 brought untold hardship and “hunger to us and our family.
“We didn’t make any sale, so there is no money. We lost most of our investments on our farming business.
“We are in good health … but we lost most of our crops to pests and lack of funds to care for our plantations due to the lockdown occasioned by COVID-19.”
Okewole called on the government to support farmers to enable them to remain in business and boost food production.
Meanwhile, the Oyo State government has commenced training youths in rural communities on entrepreneurship skills towards achieving self-sufficiency in food production.
At a training for youths at Ayete, Ibarapa North Local Government Area, Oyo State
Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Mr Ojemuyiwa Ojekunle, said the government was determined to reposition the agricultural sector to make it rewarding.
In an address delivered by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mrs. Saidat Bolatumi Oloko, at the official opening of the training on Friday, the commissioner said the government would promptly pay its counterpart funds for quick implementation of donor assisted projects.
This would ensure training and empowerment of youths in agriculture, especially through irrigation farming, he said.
The commissioner said the training on “Financial Management and Record Keeping” was aimed at encouraging rural farmers imbibe a savings culture through village savings and credit groups.
He said the training would also help participants understand credit management, financial planning and budgeting in businesses.
The commissioner said the government established Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency with headquarters at Saki, Saki West Local Government Area, with the aim of transforming Oyo State into an agribusiness hub.
He also said the government had developed two modern farm estates at Akufo, Ido Local Government Area and Eruwa in Ibarapa East local Government Are and established Agricultural Training Center, Awe, and re-launched the Rural, Access and Agricultural Marketing Project to provide1,600km rural roads to create access for farmers.
“We are no more looking backward, our teeming youths will need training on how best to sustain themselves with the entrepreneurial skills with which they will produce consumables, household products and those in love with farming will be able to do it without strain.
“Light irrigation projects will soon be introduced for young farmers. This will reduce the cost of farming and naturally multiply their yield,” he said.
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