The Nigerian Association of Agricultural Economists (NAAE) has expressed concern over astronomical rise in prices of food items across the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prof. Job Nmadu, the National President of the association, in a statement in Abuja said the pandemic had disrupted some vital agricultural activities.

He said that the 2019/ 2020 harvest, land preparations and planting for 2020 and 2021 season had been disrupted, leading to the high cost of goods.

Nmadu said unless something urgent was done by government and relevant stakeholders to arrest the situation; it would lead to devastating conditions like starvation.

According to him, some effects of the pandemic have started manifesting.

“Prices of food items have risen sharply further making it difficult for most Nigerians to afford food items that will ould provide balanced nutrition.

“In order to avoid widespread hunger and starvation in 2021, government must start working on strategies that would ensure that shortages are appropriately supplemented.

“In particular, post-harvest losses which are about 34 per cent of harvest must be prevented as much as possible.”

On impact of the pandemic on other areas of life, particularly education, the don said the educational sector was one of the most hit.

He called for more investment in Information Communication Technology (ICT).

Nmadu said that it had become necessary for stakeholders to undertake robust consultations to give online schooling a priority in the country.

According to him, most countries of the world are providing infrastructure for free Wi-Fi in public places, buildings and educational institutions.

He, however, decried that in Nigeria, students and pupils were expected to buy their data, adding that it was not sustainable.

Nmadu said it would be necessary to include provision of Wi-Fi as part of conditions for operating schools.

“The long-term impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the socio-economic and cultural life of Nigeria and Nigerians is disturbing.

“The pandemic led to the closure of all educational institutions in the country since March 2020 and necessary measures must be taken to ensure that students do not lose out completely.”

The don called on relevant stakeholders to ensure that all issues concerning resumption of normal academic activities were properly addressed to ensure a win-win situation for all.

Nmadu also called for resolution of pending issues with Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) were addressed as soon as possible. 

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