Worried by the challenges posed by the post-COVID- 19 pandemic era, scholars and experts have called on the government at all levels to put necessary infrastructure and measures in place to tackle the problems of food insecurity and wastage in order to mitigate the effects of the country’s slide into food crisis.
The call was made during the 10th Lagos State University Public Lecture, which was facilitated via Zoom virtual platform by the institution’s School of Agriculture. The theme of the public lecture was “Challenges and Opportunities for Ensuring Food Safety in Post COVID-19 Era,” which was delivered by four distinguished scholars and speakers.
They are Prof. Adegbola Adesogan; Dr. Adebimpe Onifade; Dr. Sunday Akinyemi and Dr. Khadeejah Kareem-Ibrahim, while the Acting Dean, School of Agriculture, Prof. Olatunji Abanikanda was the moderator.
Adesogan, a Professor of Animal Nutrition and Director, Livestock Systems Innovation Lab, Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences, University of Florida, U.S.A, whose lecture was entitled: “Global Food Disruptions Caused by COVID-19 and Changes Needed to Prevent Future Occurrences,” however, noted that one of the biggest challenges facing the world in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is food crisis.
This, he stressed, was brought about not because of lack of food, but due to accessibility and affordability of food to the people.
According to him, the pandemic had disrupted the chain of demand and supply of food, thereby resulting to a surge in the cost of food items in many parts of the world. “COVID-19 has disrupted the food chain such that lockdowns, failing income, increase in cost of food, reduced access to the market and myths about food borne transmission forced down the demand for food while disruption to the food value chain, transportation and economic restriction, export bans and lack of labour have forced a dip in food supply,” the don added.
Meanwhile, Onifade, the Managing Partner, Echo Consulting Group, New Jersey, U.S.A, whose lecture dwelt on “Agriculture: A Largely Unexplored Wealth Builder,” reiterated the relationship between health and wealth as means to attain food security and sufficiency in order to live a meaningful life.
Besides, the don described food and access to food as pivotal to national policy, even as he listed the training of future graduates on how to commercialise agriculture, review of agriculture curriculum in schools by making agriculture courses short-term and compulsory for all students, as well as more emphasis on apprenticeship as the way forward from food quagmire.
He further advocated that the length and content of agricultural training offered in schools should be re-examined with a view to making it focus more on practical and apprenticeship programmes and unduly long years of theory.
Again, on his part, Dr. Akinyemi, the Director of Research at the National Horticultural Research Institute in Ibadan, spoke on “Improving the Plantain/Banana Value Chain,” also stressed the need to support farmers and put in place necessary infrastructure that will prevent food wastage