Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has said that the government would establish two food production centres in Epe and Badagry to be known as ‘Lagos Food Production Centres’ in order to ensure sustained food production and supply in the State.
Sanwo-Olu, who disclosed this today in Lagos at the symbolic distribution of Agricultural Inputs and Productive Assets to 2,743 farmers under the 2020 agricultural value chains empowerment programme, explained that the two centres would ensure the resuscitation, expansion and stocking of agricultural production facilities in various value chains.
Governor Sanwo-Olu, represented at the event by his Deputy, Dr. Obafemi Kadri Hamzat, noted that the two centres would also have Agro-Tourism centres in Lagos, Songhai project in Badagry and the Agricultural Training Institute in Araga, Epe.
The Governor pointed out that the State Government also plans to establish the Lagos Aquaculture Centre of Excellence (LACE), a N10 Billion project to be located on 35 hectares of land in Igbonla, Epe under a Public-Private Partnership arrangement.
According to him, the project is designed to boost the growth and development of the aquaculture industry in the State, through the direct production of 2,000 tonnes of fish annually, provision of inputs to fish farmers under the Lagos Nucleus Farms (LANS) scheme and serve as off-taker for fish farm clusters in the State.
In his words: “The experience of the past few months during the lockdown occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic has further reinforced the urgent need to expand the State’s food production base to meet such spontaneous increase in demand for food in the future”.
Sanwo-Olu explained that the Agriculture sector remains a key component through which the State Government intends to realise the “Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy” pillar of the T.H.EME.S agenda, adding that some of the programmes that would make the realisation attainable are food security, creating employment opportunities and wealth for farmers as well as all those enhancement of the agriculture value chain.
He posited that the annual Agricultural Value Chain Empowerment Programme is one of the strategies designed to boost food production and supply, through the provision of agricultural inputs and productive assets to farmers and other players in the value chain.
He said, “This year’s edition is quite auspicious coming at a time we need to do a lot to cushion the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on the productive capacity of our farmers and other actors within the agricultural value chain. Currently, our level of food self-sufficiency in Lagos State stands at about 20% leaving a deficit of about 80%, which is mostly accounted for by supplies from other States. Our goal is to achieve a 100% increase in food self-sufficiency by 2023.
“We are committed to meeting this target with you as our key partners and through the implementation of our programmes, policies and projects which are aimed at maximising our comparative and competitive advantage in the agricultural space”, Sanwo-Olu averred.
According to him, some of the policies, programmes and projects are designed to improve the capacity of agricultural value chain actors and revolutionise productivity with the introduction of modern technology and best practices.
Earlier, the State Acting Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya explained that agriculture was not only a major source of employment for Lagosians but also vital to the promotion of food security as it plays a crucial role in increasing quantity, quality and diversity of food supply, which ultimately improves the nutritional status of the people.
She noted that the Empowerment was a means of channelling needed support to smallholder farmers who are actively engaged in the various Agricultural Value Chains, thereby creating further wealth and job opportunities while delivering optimum economic benefits to farmers and other operators.
The Acting Commissioner revealed that the Empowerment was not only targeted at farmers who are the direct beneficiaries, but also at service providers, transporters, input manufacturers and suppliers whose services are required for the successful implementation of the project.
Olusanya disclosed that since the inception of the project in 2014, a total of 11,233 farmers, fishermen, butchers, processors and marketers have been empowered.
Also speaking, a Honourable member of the State House of Assembly, Mr. Kehinde Joseph called for the legislation of the Value Chain Empowerment Programme so that it could outlive every government bearing in mind the importance of the programme in achieving food security in the State.