Application of biological and digital technologies in resolving the negative effects of COVID-19 pandemic on crop production in Nigeria
The COVID-19 pandemic has wrecked great havoc in many spheres of life, including education, health, economy, and agriculture. This paper x-rayed the effects of the pandemic on crop production in Nigeria, and efforts made to proffer viable solutions through the application of biological and digital technologies. The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on crop production was palpable in shortage of farm labour and labour immobility, disruption of agricultural input supply chain (e.g., fertilizers, agrochemicals, and seeds) and food distribution network. These irregularities grossly escalated food insecurity challenges, sparked price hikes, increased hunger and food losses. Considering the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on crop production which invariably extends to farmers’ income, food security, family nutrition and health, prompt measures to minimize the onward transmission among key players in crop production and food supply chain are imperative. The application of biological technologies including vaccination, use of natural herbs and spices, organic agriculture options (such as organic manuring, use of botanical protectants, farmers’ own seeds, cover cropping, mulching, biofertilizers, etc.), agricultural mechanization, and the digital technologies (mobile phones, remote sensing services, online platforms, robotics and artificial intelligence) would go a long way in resolving the negative effects of the pandemic on crop production in Nigeria. Strict adherences to the recommended public health safety measures (social distancing, compulsory use of face masks in the public, regular hand hygiene, covering of one’s mouth when sneezing or coughing, disinfection of high touch surfaces) are crucial in curtailing the spread of COVID-19 infection.
Key words: COVID-19 pandemic, crop production, food security, bio-and digital technologies, Nigeria