By Jimoh Babatunde
The Lagos State, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has been urged to pay more attention to agriculture to avert food crisis in the State after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director, Bama Farms Limited, Prince Wale Oyekoya, who gave the call in a letter to the Governor, said there have been so much fraud and deceit with the way farming have been portrayed by government as if everything is okay.
“The truth need to be told that Lagos State is not ready to feed the rising population of 25 million people in the state. There is food crisis in the state. There have been so much fraud and deceit with the way farming have been portrayed by government as if everything is okay.
“There has not been much support to the farmers as portrayed in the public domain and the media space. I want your administration through your good office to realise that the only way we can get out of poverty is to empower our own people to prosper and build an economy. We need to empower people and guide them to become what we want.”
Oyekoya said though the ministry of Agriculture has tried to make funds available, he added that a lot needs to be done to avert waste and invest in local farmers. “Some of the previous initiatives like the Agric YES at Araga, Epe and the prototype of Songhai farms at Badagry with several billions of taxpayers’ money has turned out to be a monumental waste.
“Some of these moribund agric projects could be concessioned to private sector to manage and report back to the government. Time of waste is over with this COVID-19 pandemic.
He added “to avert food crisis and to contribute meaningfully to the food security of the state, Farmers in Lagos states need government assistance just like any other farmers in other states or country as this is not the best time to pay lip service to farmers need in the state.
On way forward, Oyekoya said “ The state can put things right by allocating farmlands to real farmers in the state, Issue of Certificate of Occupancy without delay to real farmers to process loans from the banks and investors.
“Provide Bulldozers and tractors to open up the farmlands and tractors to weed, harrow, plant and harvest, provide free seeds and subsidized fertilizers to farmers.
He said the state will be better off with the provision of farming infrastructures such as good network roads, electricity and security to the processing hub as well as provide a collection hub and processing centres in all the senatorial district or the five zones of Lagos state such as Ikorodu, Epe, Badagry, Ikeja and Surulere.
“The last time Lagos State distributed farming tools and tractors to farmers was over 10 years ago during the first term of Babatunde Raji Fashola’s government. Currently, the state government and the 20 Local Governments do not have a single bulldozer or tractors to assist the farmers in the state. This has adversely affected food production. “
Meanwhile, the State Commissioner for Agriculture, Prince Gbolahan Lawal, has revealed that its muti-billion naira 32 Metric Ton per Hour Rice Mill at Imota would be delivered on or before the end of the year.
He explained that the Rice Mills has attained 80% completion level compared to 35% when the administration came in May last year.
According to the Commissioner, the Mill when operational would ensure a steady supply of freshly processed rice of about 2.4 million bags of 50kg per annum to Lagosians in addition to over 250,000 jobs that would be created in both the upstream and downstream sectors of the Rice Value Chain.“This mill has attained 80% completion level compared to the 35% completion level it was in May 2019. When operational, the Mill will ensure a steady supply of freshly processed rice of about 2.4m bags of 50kg per annum to Lagosians in addition to over 250,000 jobs that would be created in both the upstream and downstream sectors of the Rice Value Chain.
“To meet the Paddy requirement of the Mill, we have undertaken a backward integration in form of collaboration with other States like South-western States, Kwara, Sokoto, Benue, Borno and Kebbi .This will be done leveraging on the Anchor Borrower Scheme of the Central Bank with the Rice Mill as the off taker of the products,” Lawal averred.