Some African farmers have highlighted the negative impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the continent’s food system supply chain.
The farmers said the pandemic disrupted access to inputs, technologies, labourers and traders/aggregators.
They made the submission at the Day 3 virtual media briefing of the African Green Revolution Summit 2020 on Thursday, holding in Kigali, Rwanda.
The summit has as its theme: Feed the cities, Grow the Continent: Leveraging Urban Food Markets to achieve Sustainable Food System in Africa.
Mr King-David Amoah, President, Ghana Federation of Agricultural Producers (GFAP), said that the pandemic slowed down agricultural activities in his country.
Amoah, who is also of the Organisations Network of Ghana, said at the meeting that farmers had difficulty in accessing input, markets, extension services and technologies as a result of restrictions of movement.
He said: “Agriculture progressed a lot in Ghana before the pandemic, but slowed down because since March there had been a lot of restrictions of movement.
“Farmers could not get inputs like seeds. We could not transport our produce, there was no market for produce, aggregators and traders could not reach us.
“We could not get labourers to work on the farms during the production or harvesting periods; also access to technology was an issue because the extension officers could not get to us,” he said.
Amoah said that climate change was another factor that dealt a devastating blow on the food production process because the rains were usually heavy and would later cease for months.
“Most of us depend on rain fed agriculture. Earlier this year, the rains came and it was heavy, flooding our farms and washing away crops.
“Then all of a sudden it stopped raining and there was drought in some parts of the country. It is time for government to provide irrigation facilities for farmers,” he said.
He said smallholder farmers should be appreciated more because of their huge contribution to food production.
Also speaking, Ms Patience Koku, a Nigerian and Chief Executive Officer of Replenish Farms, said that the food supply chain was greatly affected by the pandemic.
Koku said that input such as fertilisers and seed distribution was disrupted because the fertiliser companies could not import their products.
She called for a more efficient and resilient means of food production, adding that there were seeds that were high yielding and disease resistant.
“COVID-19 showed to the world that it is indeed a global village and revealed the challenges in Africa’s food system supply chain.
“Other challenges were input based. Fertiliser is disrupted in supply, we need to have a food system that prepares us in advance.
“We need to grow efficiently, with more yields, applying innovations at all levels of production from seeds to production.
“We need seeds in Africa that are disease resistant, longer shelf life and produce foods faster to build back Africa better,” she said.
Koku called for partnerships between players in the sector to build a more resilient agriculture system for the future.
Dr Debisi Araba, Managing Director, AGRF called on governments at all levels to create enabling environment for agribusinesses to thrive.
Araba said that farmers should begin to see agriculture as a business and leverage technology and digital solutions in the midst of the pandemic.
AGRF summit, hosting series of seminars engaging policy makers, private and public sector drivers of agriculture, opened on Sept. 8 and will be rounded off on Sept. 11.
Edited By: Kevin Okunzuwa/Oluwole Sogunle