By Jimoh Babatunde
As farmers, agroÂ processors and researchers gathered last week in Lagos to celebrate the World Food day, the Lagos State used the occasion to draw attention to her numerous programs in agriculture.
Speaking at the event, Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, said as the global village is so closely knit today, â€œ crisis in one corner affects the others with the regularity of clockwork. As one of the vital components of living food knows no boundary.â€
While calling for concerted efforts at ensuring food sufficiency as the world is crisis prone, he said for us in the Lagos State administration, food security, as well as safe and healthy food utilization has been one of the key areas of the 10-Point Agenda.
In the speech read on his behalf by the Commissioner for Agriculture, Chief Enock Ajiboso, the Governor said the state being an aquatic state has leverage on its comparative advantage in implementing policies and projects in fishery, livestock and rice production.
â€œHaving identified our areas of strength, this administration has initiated several actions and has taken positive steps atÂ attaining food security and safety in the State.â€
Governor Fashola disclosed that funding of agriculture has increased by more than 500% within the last two years of his administration.
The State , he noted , has also moved agriculture onto the open water bodies that hitherto has been idle, un-utilized for agricultureÂ in an environmentally friendly manner. Some of these programmes that the governor said have improved food security and safety as well as provided employment in the stateÂ include:Â Â Approval for the construction of 4 new modern mechanized abattoirs at Ologe to service Badagry division at Achakpo to service Lagos Central axis at Epe to service the Lekki axis and atÂ Agbowa/lkoroduÂ Â inÂ Â additionÂ Â toÂ Â theÂ Â Oko-ObaÂ AbattoirsÂ Â Â and Lairage.
*TheÂ Â establishmentÂ Â ofÂ Â anÂ Â IntegratedÂ Â LivestockÂ Expansion Programme to reduce the dependence of the State on livestock import as well as a new Animal market/Dairy Farm at Imota.
*The novel establishment of Marine Agriculture-fishÂ farming in open natural water bodies beyond the pilot stage to diversity culturable tish species and create employment in the rural communities ofÂ the State.i
*Establishment of a new 400-Plot Fish Farm Estate in at Ketu-Ereyun, tkosi-Ejinrin LCDA of the State in collaboration with the private sector to produce about 10,000 tonnes of fresh fish and complement the completed 250-plot Ikorodu Fish farm Estate that will produce 6,000 tonnes annually.
*The Artisanal Fisheries Redevelopment Programme with replenishment of open water bodies andassistance to fishermen to improve their capacities.Â Â Â * The Agricultural Youth Empowerment Programme â€œThe Rice for Jobâ€ programme that has demonstrated successful rice cultivation in the State with 200 youths.
*Â Re-development of Araga Training Institute, Epe towards modern Agricultural training of Youth and serving as the base for the AGR1C-YES programme which has started with 100 youths this month.
The World Bank assistedÂ FADAMA project which has entered its third stage was also mentioned has having contributed to food sufficiency in the state as many farmers benefitted from the project.
Speaking earlier the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Olusegun Onamuti, said the Ministry and its agencies continued to receive accolades from projects and programmes implemented by it during the period.
â€œFadama II was successfully concluded which made the State eligible for the Fadama III Project that have just commenced to provide pilot assets and infrastructure towards increasing farmers productivity. The State was also selected on merit as one of the five States to pilotÂ the Commercial Agriculture in the country under the World Bank assisted initiatives.
He said drudgery in agricultural operation wouldÂ be minimized with the introduction of 51 sets of tractors to be distributed to Farmers Cooperatives at 40% subsidy in addition to the 21 new sets in operation during the year.
â€œMore tractors and implements would be procured to satisfy the need of our numerous farmers in future.â€
He added â€œthe National Programme for Food Security (NPFS), the Root and Tubers Expansion Programme (RTEP) and the Sustainability of the Agricultural Extension System using the nucleus intervention approach were vigorously implemented during the period.Onamuti disclosed that the FAO is also assisting in the development of 180Km coconut belt in the State whose productivity is declining due to old age.