It has become a tradition for ministries in Lagos State to give account of their perceived achievements
annually, so it was in line with thatÂ the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperative, under the leadership of Chief Enock Ajiboso presented its scorecards last week
Speaking at the Bagauda Khalto Press Center, Alausa, in commemoration of Three Years in Office of the Administration, the Commissioner for Agriculture noted that the task of feeding over 18million people in the state is an enormous task in a megacity state that has the highest population density and that the problem is more complex with its high industrial status, with a lot of competing needs for land.
While thanking the Governor of the state, Raji Fashola for the attention given to agriculture, Chief Enock Ajiboso said the governmentÂ within the last three years in office, through the ministry, has executed programmes and projects that will improve the food security status of the state.
Among some of the achievement reeled out by the Agriculture commissioner are in the areas of Marine Agriculture; provision of wholesome meats; veterinary services; Livestock expansion; Rice for Job; Youth Empowerment; Tractor Hiring and Micro credit scheme among others.
The state Ministry of Agriculture, for instance, has expanded its Marine Agriculture (LASMADEP) initiative by harnessing its aquatic potential towards accelerated fish production in the state.
The LASMADEP initiative has created 400 jobs directly for beneficiaries and over 10,000 jobs indirectly to cage manufacturers, for feed millers and sales, fish marketers, processors and storage amongst others with the possibility of specialisation.
The ministry has also initiated actions to replenish the declining threshold of water bodies in the state to improve fish landing.
With the successful introduction of the â€œEko Meat Vanâ€, the Ministry is now set to discourage the use of illegal meat vans operating in and outside the state with effect from this month in accordance with the Meat Inspection Law.
The administration has, therefore, awarded the construction of modern mechanised abattoirs at Ologe, Badagry LGA to service Ojo_Badagry axis to Transelector Nigeria Ltd; and the Achakpo in Ajeromi-Ifelodun to service Amuwo_Odofin and Surulere axis to Harmony Abattoir management Services Ltd. The two abattoirs with a capacity to slaughter 1,000 cattle per day are expected to commence operation before the end of this year.
With the effective curtailment of Avian influenza (AI) and African Swine Fever (ASF) in the state, the ministry has embarked on the distribution of disease_free livestock under its Integrated Livestock Expansion Programme (ILEP) to farmers. Ten Hatchery and incubators with 500 egg per cycle capacity has also been given to viable co_operative societies while 10,000 Point of Lay birds have been distributed to livestock farmers as pilot last year.
The Rice for Job initiative has successfully increased rice cultivation in the state from less than 50 hectares in 2007 to 250 hectares last year, with 200 youths attracted to the farm. Irrigated farming that would ensure double cropping has also been introduced to ensure year round production cycle by the beneficiaries. Two modern rice processing facilities with a capacity for four tonnes per day each were also used to produce â€œEko Riceâ€ in distribution within the state.
The AGRIC_YES initiative was also designed to produce first class entrepreneurial elite farmers in the area of poultry, fish farming, bee_keeping and all season vegetable farming as well as correct the problems of the old Farm Settlement Schemes in the state
Enock Ajiboso said â€œAs of date, Cage and Pen culture system has diversified into the culture of Tilapia and Chrysicthes (Obokun) in addition to the cat fish that is already popular in the state. Private initiative has increased the number of cages from nine at the pilot stage to 29 statewide.
The communities in which the pilot stages were established have taken ownership of the facilities as well as restock same on a sustainable basis.
â€œThe Ikorodu Fish Farm Estate, which has been fully subscribed is currently producing at 60 per cent of its capacity. An average of 3,000 tonnes of fresh fish was produced annually from the estate with over 400 jobs created directly and over 100,000 jobs indirectly. A technological incubation centre has been added with hatcheries and processing facilities that will add value to the estate. Approval has also been given for the establishment of a modern fish market in the sstate that would ease citizenâ€™s access to purchase fish at any time and day irrespective of the buyersâ€™ location.
â€œWith the success recorded at Ikorodu, the ministry has cleared a 60Ha farmland at Ketu, Ereyun in Epe LGA for another 400 plots capacity Fish Farm Estate.
The land has been surveyed and laid out with the front fence, gate and site office in place. The estate which will be the largest Fish Farm Estate in Africa will produce about 20,000 Tonnes of fresh fish per annum,â€ the commissioner said.
Ajiboso also said that a large proportion of fish supply in the state is being obtained from the activities of over 4,000 fishing families in the state. The Ministry, he said, has initiated action to replenish the declining threshold of the water bodies in the state..
The Rice for Job initiative has successfully increased rice cultivation in the State from less than 50Ha in 2007 to 250Ha in 2009 with 200 youths attracted to the Farm. The Tractor Hiring Unit (THU) has serviced an average of 2,105 farmers with an average of 1.5ha tractor time per farmer for farm mechanisation.â€
The agric chief said that thirteen modern community based agro_processing centres have been established during the period with only three being on rice and others for cassava processing to empower the rural women and add value to their products
â€œThe AGRIC_YES initiative was designed to produce first class entrepreneurial elite farmers in the area of Poultry, Fish farming, Bee_keeping and all season vegetable farming as well as correct the problems of the old farm settlement chemes in the state.
Ajiboso told reporters that his ministry has rejuvenated the agricultural co_operatives to positioning them to benefit from the various projects and programmes of the state, thereby empowering the good people of Lagos State in the sector. During the year under review, 1,101 Co_operative societies were registered to bring the total to 13,125.
â€œThe formation of vibrant Women Agricultural Co_operative Societies were intensified with the support of the First Lady of state.
â€œThe Animal Traction and Hand Tools Programme (ATHP) was initiated in May last year to boost food production, reduce drudgery and also alleviate rural poverty through credit delivery.
â€œCommercial farming with highest possible return has the key to food supply in a land constrained state such as Lagos. The major obstacle to commercial farming is the access to credit at farmersâ€™ friendly terms.
â€œEqually, the governor has initiated a N50 billion long term investment credit agreement with the CBN and the Bankers Committee for agricultural development in the state.
During the period, extension officers reached more than 301,000 farmers out of which 842 contact farmers groups were formed and consolidated with appropriate training and exposure. The various technical messages disseminated to farmers/fishermen on improved agricultural technologies adaptable to our local environment had resulted in increased food production by farmers in the state,â€ he said.