One of the ACAI project primary partners, Oyo State Cassava Growers Association (OYSCGA), has been forced to change their operational procedures to keep farm activities going despite on-going COVID – 19 pandemic.
Some of the steps taken by OYSCGA includes reducing the number of event attendance, observing safe distance when visiting farmers and conducting some of their activities virtually especially, with the use of What’s App for coordination of meetings with Extension Agents (EAs). The measures have affected training sessions, extension agent and farmer advisory interactions, pre-season sensitization on the use of AKILIMO tools and a series of meetings. OYSCGA coordinates and represents the ambitions of smaller cassava farmers associations across the 33 local governments of Oyo State, Nigeria. The association manages the relationship between cassava farmers and processors, organize youth programs in agriculture, hold training events for improved agronomic practices and source for capital, markets and input supplies for their members.
OYSCGA has taken into consideration the needs of the farmers who have cautiously continued to tend to their cassava farms to avoid losses when the seasons change. As a result, the association has deployed its team of EAs, who are helping farmers while keeping the strict safety procedures advised by health officials.
According to the OYSCGA chairperson Adesiyan Bashir, the extension agents are meeting with individual farmers in their fields rather than in groups to help them apply the AKILIMO recommendation on the best planting practices and weed management for cassava.
The decision by OYSCGA to adopt new ways of operation has been hailed as ingenious to continue supporting farmers during the COVID – 19 pandemic. Speaking on behalf of ACAI project, scaling specialist Thompson Ogunsanmi said such efforts will help reduce possible food security crisis after the pandemic. However, Thompson asked all those involved in ACAI project activities to exercise caution, ensure they adhere to government regulations on COVID – 19 and avoid activities that will endanger their health and that of those around them.
ACAI project has scaled down on activities with respect to measures taken to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in all the countries that the project is operating.