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Food is one of the biggest concerns during this lockdown because of the government directive restricting movement of people as a means to control the spread of this Corona virus pandemic. As much I am not blaming anyone for this COVID-19 pandemic but if government is going to tell people to stay at home, they have to consider the homeless, poor people and the farm workers. In spite of the oil, agriculture remains the base of the Nigerian economy, providing the main source of livelihood for most Nigerians. Today, more than 80 percent of Nigeria’s farmers are smallholder farmers and they are the main producers of over 90 percent of domestic output. The mantra “No farmers, no food” and “No farmers, no Nation” surely fit their significance in our society. So, let assume this sizeable portion of the population get sick or infected from this Coronavirus pandemic, with the way and manner the nation’s political leaders are treating them with levity, the cumulative impact is better imagined on our nation where the food production no longer keep pace with population growth and this will further makes the country to be over dependent on food import in an attempt to bridge the gap between demand and supply of food. {International Journal of Agriculture Innovations and Research Volume 6, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 2319-1473}.

We have to appreciate the contribution of the Nigerian farm workers like their counterpart in the health care sector who are putting their health on the line for the rest of us. For those of us who have been on the farms with them, you will agree that their living and working conditions obviously threaten their health and the nation’s food supply. Now that we have COVID-19, a new pathogenic threat, these workers who feed us right from the villages and rural areas are once again in grave danger and are among the groups most at risk of contracting the Coronavirus and if they are at risk, the nation’s food supply may be at risk too. And if something urgent is not done — now — to address their unique vulnerability, the men and women who plant, cultivate and harvest our food will face a decimating wave of contagion and misery in a matter of weeks, if not days. Just as the government at both the centre and at the state level has released a lot of virus containment measures for protecting ourselves from the virus and preventing its spread — SOCIAL DISTANCING AND SELF-ISOLATION — are effectively impossible within the in farming communities and with our communal set up, once one farm worker and labourer gets sick, it’s only a matter of time before his or her housemates and colleagues  contact it  especially now that the World Health Organization (WHO) has described the virus as being contagious and airborne as well.

In Nigeria, our farming communities have been neglected in the scheme of things and it’s only during electioneering campaign they get noticed by the politicians who always promise them heaven and earth and thereafter abandon them. The farmers never had access to health care even before Covid-19 not to talk of any decent clinic or adequate hospital beds here in most of the towns and villages in Nigeria.  The government never made provision for isolation centre, no test kits for a virus that sometimes does not show symptoms on the victims, no ventilators, no intensive care units, no medical professionals stationed within the farming communities, no access to good and efficient transportation system to the nearest hospital.

We can’t continue to treat these people who harvest our food as expendable. We need to take steps now, ahead of the surge of cases to erect fully functional and well staffed field hospitals  and clinic like those being established in many urban communities  with both advanced lifesaving medical resources for those fighting for their lives and beds for those with more minor symptoms but no means to self-isolate at home — in communities. I will implore the Federal Government of Nigeria under President Muhammad Buhari to roll out plans today to effectively protect these farm workers. They are essential workers and as such should be treated like that because no food workers, no food. They can’t afford to get sick by going to farm, and they can’t afford to lose their earnings by not working if they are to be effective. The various State governments can donate simple hand-washing machines to be placed in strategic locations around the community. They can provide personal protective equipment (P.P.E) like nose masks, disposable hand gloves and sanitizers to the farming communities all over the country and equally design, create and safely distribute multilingual communication educational materials on the various steps to take whenever they see the symptoms of this COVID-19 in any of their family members and colleagues and ask the staffs of the National Orientation Agency (N.O.A) to regularly visit the farming communities and advise them to stay safe and stay productive to be able to stay alive to continue to provide food for the nations because without farmers, there is no food and there won’t be any nation.

Since the well being of our readers and followers has always being our concerns at #FoodpreneurNews as a member of the #foodpreneurnewsfamily, and together we shall all get through this present phase we’ve found ourselves. We encourage you to stay safe, exempted and productive all through this stay-at-home period.  According to World Health Organization (WHO), observe these basic rules to avoid and prevent the deadly Coronavirus spread: Wash your hands frequently with soap under running water; maintain social distancing; avoid touching your face, nose, mouth and high contact surfaces. 

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Rasaq Oke is the publisher of FoodpreneurNews Magazine and Executive Director of Community Foodcare Foundation and Managing Partner at Fooddotcom Academy and Respitality Care Company

About The Author

Rasaq Oke

Rasaq Oke hold a Bachelor of Science (B. Sc.) Honours degree in Food Science & Technology from the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife. He is a seasoned Food Technologist and Agribusiness expert with wide and rich industry experience that cut across reputable organization like Guinness Plc, Crown Cork and Seal, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals (now Neimeth Pharmaceuticals), Livestock Feeds Plc. and Tantalizers Plc. He is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of FOODDOTCOMACADEMY SERVICES, Managing Consultant with RESPITALITY CARE COMPANY (RCC), and Publisher/ CEO of FOODPRENEURS PUBLISHING COMPANY, the publisher of FOODPRENEURNEWS, a print and online food magazine ( Mr. Oke is an accomplished food entrepreneur, consultant, administrator, instructor, and facilitator. He is a member of the Governing Council of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST) and the Head,-Editorial Board of the NIFST Food Forum Magazine; An Executive Member of the Nigeria Association of Agricultural Journalist (NAAJ). He is an Full Member and Secretary of the Membership, Certification and Education Committee of the Governing Council of the Nigerian Institute of Training and Development (NITAD). He a a Media and Communication Consultant to the Lagos State Fadama Coordination Office (SFCO) and the Lagos State Coconut Development Authority (LASCODA) in addition to being a Technical Partner to the Lagos State Consumer Protection Authority (LASCOPA). He is married with children and loves playing table tennis as well as travelling.

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