The Rivers Government has inaugurated Food Desks in its 23 Local Government Areas to buy foodstuffs from farmers and fishermen on a daily basis in the state for distribution to indigenes.
Dr Tammy Danagogo, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and Chairman, Committee to Purchase Foodstuffs, made this known in an update with journalists in Port Harcourt on Thursday.
He said that the inauguration was part of measures to mitigate the pains resulting from COVID-19 lockdown and explain the modalities of the food purchase by the state government.
According to Danagogo, apart from food desks in the local government areas, the Office of the SSG and the Office of the Commissioner, Ministry of Agriculture are other contact points to reach the committee.
He advised farmers to sell at reasonable prices to support the scheme initiated by Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers to alleviate the suffering of farmers who would be stranded in selling their food.
He said that other objectives of the scheme included assisting the populace who might go hungry if the situation occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic deteriorated in the state.
The SSG said the state government did not shut farming activities but advised that farmers and fishermen observed the basic hygiene and social distance during farming activities.
He said: “This is a win-win situation for both farmers and the public. The governor has quickly noted that farmers will be frustrated in selling their products because the markets are closed and to help the populace who are indoors and unable to go to market because of the COVID-19 pandemic.’’
He said that the governor’s wishes were “to ensure that no food items are not wasted and no food shortage is experienced in the state because of the lockdown’’.
Also, the Commissioner of Agriculture, Mr Fred Kpakol, urged farmers not to “sell their seeds in order to make quick gain but bear in mind that there is a future after COVID-19’’.
He urged the media to keep up the sensitisation and partnership with the government in educating the public, including farmers.
In his remarks, the Commissioner of Information and Communication, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, said that the scheme was inaugurated by the governor “to ensure no Rivers man or woman goes hungry or is frustrated because of COVID-19’’.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was also attended by Chairman of councils and members of the committee.
The committee further announced the receipt of food items donated by management of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company.