COVID-19: AFEX Wants Input Loans for Farmers to Boost Food Production

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AFEX Commodities Exchange Ltd, has appealed to government and development organisations to support farmers with input loans to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on food production.

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Mr Ayodeji Balogun, Chief Executive Officer of the exchange, in a statement in Abuja on Friday, said the support would encourage farmers to increase production during the season.

Balogun stressed the need for availability of farm input and labour, noting that the impact of the pandemic on the commodities market stemmed from the drop in global production.

He also suggested the provision of export credit guarantee to exporters operating in the country, to help create foreign exchange in the system.

“It is noteworthy to indicate that government and other developmental organisations could support local producers with input loans by leveraging on agro-allied companies with last mile contact with farmers.

“As we approach the production season for majority of the crops cultivated in the country, the ability of primary producers to access their farms across the country remains the strongest concern.

“A key concern however, is the availability of farm inputs and labour necessary to operate during the production season.

“We envisage a challenging time ahead, but coordinated efforts by concerned organisations, governments, businesses and developmental organisations will be crucial in overcoming the imminent challenges,’’ he said.

Balogun said that prices of commodities in the Nigerian markets started to decline from the beginning of the year with soybean experiencing the steepest decline, falling by 13.55 per cent.

He disclosed that maize also fell by 5.94 per cent over the same period while crops such as ginger and cocoa gained five per cent and 11.69 per cent respectively.

The CEO said that although the country would have enough food for the next four to five months, the key concern was the sufficiency of national inventory to fulfill the food need if the lockdown persisted.

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