In a bid to facilitate free movement of food and agricultural inputs nationwide to avoid food shortages and ensure 2020 production season is not hampered, security agents enforcing the lockdown has been directed to allow free passage of food items, livestock and farm inputs.
The directive came in a communiqué issued by the Minister of Agriculture, Mohammed Sambo Nanono after a meeting with the Ministers of Defense, Interior and Police Affairs on Emergency response to COVID-19.
The meeting was held on Monday at the Minister’s conference room, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Headquarters, Abuja.
The communiqué read; “After thorough deliberations, the meeting resolved and agreed as follows:
“That security agencies official at States and Federal levels should work within the framework of the Federal COVID-19 Emergency Action Response Plans with relevant law enforcement agencies to develop modalities of ensuring easy movement of foodstuff, livestock and farm inputs.
“That the relevant security agencies should work in a coordinated way with clear instructions and directives to law enforcement agents at the various checkpoints to facilitate the passage of vehicles conveying foodstuff, perishable farm products, livestock and farm inputs without compromising national security or health measures.
“Law Enforcement Agents should liaise with local governments’ and States’ officials in determining modalities for facilitating the movement of foodstuffs to and from markets during the lockdowns.
“The the Ministry and law enforcement agents under the guidance of the four Ministers, set up a joint technical task team to draw guidelines for ensuring the safe operations of farmers/grains markets, livestock and poultry markets and dealers and sellers of agricultural inputs during the COVID-19 Crisis.
“That the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development working with various farmers’ associations, crop producers association, poultry associations, tractor services associations, to design mechanisms of providing special passes to be recognized by the security agencies to facilitate free movement of foodstuff, perishables, farm inputs, livestock and fish.”
The Minister said a Joint Technical Task Team will work with States Commissioners of Police, Commandant of Civil Defence Corps and other senior military officials in the States to respond rapidly to any reported logjam involving foodstuffs or livestock.
“This opportunity should not be used to transport contraband items including illicit drugs, arms and ammunition. The four Ministers are to convene a Periodic Review Meeting to assess the situation and advise the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
The resolutions of this meeting will, in turn, be communicated to the Chairman, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Chairman of Governors’ Forum and Chairman of ALGON for information and further action,” the communiqué said.