By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Lagos State Government has stressed the need for citizens to engage in agricultural business in order to bridge the food shortage gap and target in the country, particularly in Lagos State as well as ensuring food security for its teeming populace.
The state government, however, commended farmers for their contributions, hard work and vigour in ensuring that the food supply chain was not broken especially during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The state Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya gave the urge and commendation on Sunday, at the December edition of the Eko City Farmers’ Fair and Farmers’ Appreciation Day, at the Ndubusi Kanu Park, Alausa, Ikeja.
Olusanya, explained that in view of the global economic realities and challenges off COVID-19 pandemic, it is expedient for citizens and residents to embrace agribusiness in line with one of the pillars of THEMES’ agenda of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu led administration.
“Agribusiness is the business of agricultural production which involves the production, protection, sales and marketing of the product to satisfy the customers need.
“There is no better time to invest in agribusiness than now. There abound greater opportunities
She explained that the agricultural sector deserved a lot of attention and has been getting such from the State Government noting that the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu intends to increase the attention moving forward.
According to her, the year 2020 has been a special and peculiar one with the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world at large and Lagos State being the epicentre of the COVID-19 activity in Nigeria making the agricultural sector the second most impacted sector after health by the pandemic.
“We need to understand the importance of our farmers in the scheme of things; without farmers, the Nigeria of today cannot survive.
“We know what happened during the lockdown when people thought they were not going to get access to food but yet our farmers came through for us.
“Many thanks to you our dear farmers, you stood by us by ensuring that the food supply chain was not broken at any time. It was stretched yes, but with your efforts and God’s grace, it was not broken.
“All these express the thought and sentiment behind the Farmers’ Appreciation and Award day. Let there be no doubt in your minds concerning how appreciative this administration is when it comes to your contributions to ‘Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy’. What we are doing today is the least we can do to appreciate you,” Olusanya stated.
The commissioner stressed that the Eko City Farmers Fair was intended to be a melting point for farmers to be able to sell directly to consumers and for residents to buy farm-fresh products directly from stakeholders at farm gate prices while shopping in a relaxing atmosphere.
“We want people to be able to come here with their kids to be able to shop and for the kids to be happy as well. That is the essence of having a positive atmosphere.
“Another thing is for us also to appreciate our farmers today, we realized that this year has been a very, very tough year, especially for farmers considering all they’ve been through. If I start with the piggery farmers, for instance, with the swine flu that happened, a lot of them lost their means of livelihood almost to a point of no return.
“Our poultry farmers are still under a lot of strain right now as they are not able to get poultry feed. Fish farmers are also going on through a lot of stress with the cost of fish feed. And then you have our rice farmers as well. We are trying to support and we’ll continue to support you.
“But generally speaking, our farmers have been under a lot this year, not just locally, obviously nationally as well and we felt that with the COVID- 19 pandemic and the stress on the food systems, there is no better way to show appreciation to our farmers.
“There is no better way than to start to put our farmers on a platform where they are also recognized locally. It’s been done in other climes and we need to start that from Lagos at least for this year,” the commissioner said.
Olusanya noted that farmers play a very important role in the economy of the country and deserved to be recognised as very key stakeholders.
“So why are we not placing our farmers on a pedestal? Why are we not giving our farmers that importance? Why are we not celebrating our farmers? We are showcasing them and say farmers, you deserved a space, you deserved to be recognized.
“Why are farmers on the back burner? Why do we think farmers are rural and illiterate people, therefore they belong at the back burner?
“We need to understand that economics globally be it the Netherlands, US and even Europe as a great continent. They all started with farming and farming is still the backbone of the economy,” she added.
Dr Yakub Bashorun, emerged as the best farmer of the year, Samuel Omitunde emerged as the most promising farmer of the year and Mrs Sola Ogunleye emerged as the best woman in agriculture.