By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu led administration has revealed plans to empower at least 15,000 youths and women within the next four years in line with the agricultural development roadmap of the state.
The state Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Gbolahan Lawal, disclosed this weekend, when he led a delegation of the state government officials that included : Special Adviser to the Governor on Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya to inspect the Songhai Model of the Agricultural Youth Empowerment Scheme (Agric -Yes), located in Avia-Igborosun in the Badagry Local Government Area of the state.
Lawal expressed the readiness and determination of the state government to complete all abandoned projects in the agricultural sector particularly, the Songhai Model, (Agric Yes).
The commissioner noted that upon assumption of office in July, he commissioned the development of a roadmap with the theme, “A Sustainable Inclusive Growth Strategy” with the citizens at the core, adding that one of the outcomes of the roadmap was to empower no fewer than 15,000 youths and women within the next four years.
He recalled that the Songhai model was a product of a collaboration between the state government and the Songhai Regional Centre, Porto Novo, Benin Republic adding that the programme is geared towards encouraging organic farming and using simple biological methods to enhance production outputs.
“The model is based on new approaches and farming systems that rely heavily on the combined inputs from local experiences, indigenous technology, business communities, and research institutions. The result is a robust, zero waste, integrated agro-allied model promoting rural growth through training, technology adaptation and strong business and commercialization strategy,” Lawal explained.
The Commissioner added that objectives of the model include the need to train and create employment for youths therefore providing improved livelihood for the unemployed youths and reduce Rural-Urban migration of youths as well as to provide food in sufficient quantities to a population that is increasingly demanding in term of quality and diversity – Production that delivers sufficient quantities of safe wholesome food items that assist in disease prevention, healthy living and healthy aging.
“Some of the objectives of the model are to reduce dependency on other States to supply the food and fibre to be consumed by Lagosians; to complement the productivity of the ageing farmers which could not sustain or move the state to a comfortable level of self-sufficiency in food production and to provide competitive inputs/raw materials for the Agro-Industry,” Lawal stated.
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He added that the entrepreneurial thinking associated with the Songhai project will help farmers to explore many of the State‘s under-developed and under-sold agricultural sector products stressing that the “Songhai project is in tandem with the THEMES developmental agenda of making Lagos a 21st century economy as it is about reducing bio-waste and using renewable resources to generate power and using modern technologies to drive agricultural development and creating employment.”
Lawal recalled that the Songhai Project which commenced activities in 2012 with the signing of an Memorandum of Understanding, MOU with the Songhai Regional Centre but abandoned within the last four years has such infrastructure such as: Poultry pens, piggery pens, concrete fish ponds, greenhouse, dormitories, classrooms, restaurants, staff residence and administration building as well as a biogas plant.