By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has expressed the commitment of his administration to always provide necessary assistance and advisory services to farmers in order to increase productivity in ensuring food security in the state.
Sanwo-Olu gave the assurances on Thursday while addressing beneficiaries at the Flag-Off of the 2019 Agricultural Value Chains Empowerment programme wherein 1,750 Agricultural Value Chains Actors were empowered with various agricultural productive assets and inputs.
“In spite of the global climate change which constitutes a major challenge to food security, our Government would continue to provide necessary assistance and advisory services to farmers to increase food production in the State,” Sanwo-Olu stated.
The governor, who was represented by his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat explained that the provision of adequate socio-economic infrastructure, on a sustainable basis, to meet the needs of the growing population would continue to receive the state government priority attention.
He called for adequate preparation in order to meet the challenges of a growing population and reinforced the need for a new and integrated approach to food production and agro-allied business in order to enhance and sustain food security.
“As we all know, Lagos State is the commercial hub of Nigeria and the sub region. It has been ranked as the 5th largest economy in Africa and the fastest growing city in the world in terms of economy and population. Therefore, the provision of adequate socio-economic infrastructure, on a sustainable basis, to meet the needs of the growing population must continue to receive our priority attention.
“We must, therefore, prepare to adequately meet the challenges and reinforce the need for a new and integrated approach to food production and agro-allied business in order to enhance and sustain food security,” Sanwo-Olu said.
The governor reiterated the need for the active participation of all stakeholders in the agricultural space towards mitigating the challenges of food supply and demand in the State adding that Government alone cannot do this.
Sanwo-Olu noted that as the State Government continue with its very laudable programmes and initiate new ones, the lots of farmers would be greatly improved and that jobs would be created and food production would also be greatly enhanced.
He, however, unveiled a five Year Agricultural roadmap with the theme “A Sustainable and Inclusive Growth Strategy with the Citizens at the core” as part of efforts of the government at making Lagos a 21st Century Economy with the agricultural sector playing a vital role in sustainable food security and diversifying the economy.
According to Sanwo-Olu, the roadmap focuses on the development of agricultural value chains where the State has competitive and comparative advantages including the provision and availability of improved inputs, increased productivity and production.
“The roadmap also addresses wholesomeness of food items, reduction in post-harvest losses, improving linkages with industry in respect to backward integration as well as access to financial services and markets. All these efforts are targeted towards increasing the State’s self-sufficiency from less than 20% to 40% of food needs by 2023,” he said.
The Governor listed some of the projects to include: 32 tons per hour Rice Mill at Imota which will soon commence operations, the Agricultural based Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES), aimed at breeding a new generation of Agro entrepreneurs in the State and the World Bank assisted Agro-processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project (APPEALS) designed to build capacities of actors in Rice, Aquaculture and Poultry Value Chains.
Earlier, the State Commissioner for Agriculture, Prince Gbolahan Lawal explained that the Agricultural Value Chains Empowerment programme targeted at farmers who are the direct beneficiaries, service providers, transporters, input manufacturers and suppliers within the system whose services are required for the successful implementation of the project.
“The implementation of the project will significantly improve the standard of living of fish farmers, fishermen, marketers and agro-processors in the State, expand food production by 3%, increase revenue to the State Government in form of taxes and other levies. This project will also create direct employment opportunities for 1,000 youths as farmers, processors and marketers across the Value Chains through farm expansion,” Lawal said.
The commissioner implored all the beneficiaries to put their inputs into judicious use so that maximum impacts are derived to the overall benefit of residents stressing that the task of adequate food production for residents is enormous and should not be left to government alone.