Tomisin Adefare is a young lady who is passionate about development. She has a first degree in Agricultural Economics and Extension from the Osun State University, Osogbo. She is currently on a Master’s programme in Agricultural Extension and Rural Development at the University of Ibadan. She recently organized a sensitization programme for market men and women in two selected markets in Ibadan on COVID 19 preventive measures, food security and safety practices. She had a chat with Rasheed Adebiyi on her passion for development, food security and hygiene. The excerpts are here.
Tekedia: What informed your recent effort at engaging issues around COVID 19 and food security?
Tomisin Adefare: I believe an individual can make a difference. Our collective effort can make an immeasurable impact in the lives of many people. It is everybody’s social responsibility to ensure the virus doesn’t spread among the people and that food security is not affected.
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Tekedia: How do you feel being part of those engaging the Pandemic in a productive manner?
Tomisin Adefare : I feel fulfilled making an impact in my community. It makes me want to do more. As a student of Development, I cannot resist the urge to contribute my own quota in the fight against the Coronavirus which is threatening an area I have huge interest in- food security. Health is important to ensuring food security. When the farmers are healthy, they would be able to farm and supply the markets with the needed food items. The market users too need to be healthy to ensure the chain of distribution does not break. This is why I embarked on the sensitization on the preventive measures of the virus and at the same time also enlighten the market users on the need to maintain food safety practices.
Tekedia: Tell us more on these programmes?
Tomisin Adefare : The sensitization was done on food safety and preventive measures of COVID 19. Sometimes ago, I was at the market for a market survey and part of my survey was to see how food is being packaged, processed and sold. I discovered the way the food was being handled wasn’t hygienic enough. I discovered some food items were exposed to flies and to some animals like goats and sheep. I remembered vividly about the time the goat and sheep were busy eating the cassava flakes that were put outside by a seller, it was a passerby that called her attention to it that she had to chase the animals away. After which she removed a small portion from the side the animals were eating from, poured it away and then continued selling to the customers that came after then. I was so sad and as a Development Practitioner, that triggered me to make plans towards sensitizing them on food safety.Bodija and Sango Oju Irin Markets were chosen for the sensitization because this is where the bulk of the food people in Ibadan metropolis eat comes from. Also, due to the outbreak of COVD 19, there was a need to sensitize them on preventive measures to prevent transmission of the virus in the market place. Because this will have a negative impact on food security in the society and this could lead to hunger, starvation to death and malnutrition.
Tekedia: What was your experience like talking to people at the grassroots?
Tomisin Adefare : I discovered that the majority of the market users didn’t believe COVID 19 exists and they were of the opinion that it could only affect the rich people. We made them understand that the virus is not a respecter of any person as it affects the children, the old, the rich and the poor. We discovered a minority of them had heard about Covid 19 from friends but still aren’t taking it serious. After the sensitization, the market users understood how to wash hands properly, the importance of social distancing. They even demonstrated social distancing before we left the markets. We saw them maintaining some distance from their co-sellers at the market. They had a change of mindset about it as they were a bit scared of the consequences if someone that contracted the disease is not properly taken care of.
Tekedia: As a result of your being on the street, what advice do you have for government on the fight against COVID 19
Tomisin Adefare: Sensitization is never enough and as they keep hearing the importance and purpose, they will begin to stick to it and act properly. Lockdowns may be the best solution to curtail the spread but it pays for most developed countries where about 80 percent of the population is in the formal sector and they could work from home. But in a country like Nigeria where about 65 percent of the people especially in the rural areas are in the informal sector, lockdown without adequate support or a relief fund can as well lead to casualties. As non-governmental organizations and the private institutions are doing their best in creating awareness and sensitizing people on the need to take preventive measures, government shouldn’t relent by creating more awareness for people especially those living in the rural areas, they should provide more protective materials for the people or by subsidizing the amount they purchase it. The National Agency for Food and Drug Control should enforce food safety among the market users so as to prevent eating contaminated food to prevent diseases such as Lassa fever as the number of people dying from it keeps increasing day by day.