The Rivers State Government has clarified that farming was not part of the lockdown declared in the state to contain the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Rivers Committee on Palliative, which made the clarification in Port Harcourt encouraged farmers to go back to their farms and produce food items for the committee to buy for distribution to Rivers residents.
The Secretary to the State Government and Chairman of the committee, Dr. Tammy Danagogo, told the farmers that the N2bn set aside by the state Governor, Nyesom Wike to ease the lockdown pain would be used to mop up all their produce.
He said the reason for setting up the committee was to salvage farm products following the closure of markets saying the committee had started buying all the available food items from farmers in the state.
Danagogo said the committee had worked out uniform pricing for all the commodities adding that warehouses to store the foodstuffs had been identified.
He said the local government chairmen and their sub-committees were also going round their domains to buy from the farmers.
He asked the farmers to return to their farms and produce more food items after selling their stock to the committee.
To simplify the purchasing system, Dagogo noted that agricultural desks had been set up in all the local government areas and appealed to farmers take their products there for sale.
He said: “The purpose of this committee, which the governor set aside N2bn is to ensure we reach out to our farmers and fishermen to buy every food items they have and make sure our food bank is enough for distribution to all our residents.
“We have identified all the major food baskets in the state; all those that can supply us whatever they have. We have worked out a uniform pricing system for the foodstuffs so that we can purchase them at a reasonable price.
“We have identified warehouses where these products will be kept pending when they are distributed to our citizens. The daily purchase of the foodstuffs has started. We are going to purchase these items on daily basis.
“We want to mop up every food item available in any part of the state. The local government chairmen and members of their committees will mop up all items available in their domains on daily bais.
“The intention of the government is to ensure that farmers and fishermen are empowered so that whatever they produce can be sold immediately so that they can go back and produce more. The idea is not that farmers should sell and rest. Rivers state government did not close farms.