Group decries loss of over N5m worth of rice to movement restriction

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THE Nigeria Farmers Group and Cooperative Society (NFGCS) has decried the loss of over N5 million worth of rice to restriction of movement occasioned by COVID-19.

The National Coordinator of the group, Mr Retson Tedheke, made this known in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Friday.

Tedheke said one of its trucks, conveying rice from Nasarawa state to Lagos state, took 28 days to get to and fro its destination due to hitches encountered at several checkpoints across states.

According to him, the development led to the rice being exposed to rainfall, leading to destruction of over 233 bags.

He expressed concern over the development in spite of existing Federal Government guidelines on free movement of agricultural products.

According to him, many farmers have lost millions of naira to the development, which he described as unfortunate.

“There is no restriction on movement of agricultural products, however, when you get to the road, it is a different ball game.

” The security agents on the road do not care, making life unbearable for farmers.

“Until government begins to make example of these officers, who do not have recourse to regulations, we will not go far in this country.

“We contacted relevant authorities, but what happens usually is that they follow up, which is a good thing.

“However, our drivers sometimes get to locations where they cannot be reached on network and these things happen in such places.

“As I speak, there are several trucks carrying agricultural products that are stranded at the various checkpoints across the country.

“You can imagine those carrying perishable goods, and we know time is of the essence when it comes to some agricultural products,” he said.

According to the coordinator, coming from Keffi, in Nasarawa state, to Abuja takes several hours because of the numerous checkpoints.

“So, you can imagine what people go through across the country. It is a situation that needs urgent attention,” he said.

Tedheke said if the situation was not well handled while the COVID-19 pandemic lasted, there might be food shortage across the country, leading to hunger and starvation.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Federal Government had on April 24 inaugurated a seven-man Joint Technical Task Team on Emergency Response to COVID-19.

The team was inaugurated to ensure unrestricted movement of agricultural products across the country, following complaints by farmers of restriction of agricultural products across states.

The seven-man task team is chaired by Austin Agbonlahor, the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in-charge of Operations.

NAN

– June 5, 2020 @ 18:30 GMT |

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