As part of measures to boost production, the Lagos State Government has empowered over 3,000 women, youths and vulnerable residents in the agriculture enterprise.
Speaking on Thursday at the 2021 Agricultural Value Chains Enterprise Activation Programme, the State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu explained that the empowerment was with regard to ensuring food security.
Sanwo-Olu explained that his administration was committed to the development and expansion of the agricultural sector through a ”farm-to-table” model that aligned with the goal of making Lagos a 21st century economy.
He said that the 3,000 residents would be supported with equipment and agricultural input that would help make a significant difference in the quality and scale of their agricultural practice.
According to him, the intervention will cut across a wide range of participants in the agricultural value chain: farmers, processors and merchants of fish, poultry, pigs, as well as rice and other crops.
”These beneficiaries will be receiving tractors, ploughs, fishing boats and gear; harvesters, threshers, destoning machines and de-feathering machines.
”They will also be receiving medication, herbicides, fish juveniles, pig growers, smoking kilns, eggs and various other implements and inputs.
”These are to be utilised in farming communities across the agricultural zones of Badagry, Epe and Ikorodu.
”The goal is simple: we want to make life easier for our farmers and agriculture workers. We want to make it easier for them to clear their land, grow high-quality crops, raise healthy animals, and process their output.
”When they are able to do this successfully, everyone benefits, from producers to consumers. There are clear benefits in terms of health, productivity, employment, and so on,” he said.
The governor said that the government had put in place a strategy for the proper utilisation and continuous maintenance of these assets to ensure maximum value.
He said that the state government was also working with a financial institution regarding appropriate financing structures for the guaranteed sustainability of the programme.
The governor called on the private sector to take advantage of the huge potentials in the state’s agricultural sector which boasts an annual revenue of N5 trillion.
He said that there were a lot of untapped potentials in the state’s agricultural sector waiting to be exploited.
”Our determination to increase food production in the state from the current 20 per cent to at least 50 per cent of demand by 2025 has been emboldened.
”This is due to the disruption in the supply chain of food across the country as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the outbreak of zoonotic diseases.
”The consequences of the disruption, coupled with the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests, impacted heavily on the cost and availability of food items, leaving less disposable income in the pockets of the average Lagosian.
”We have emerged wiser and more determined to succeed in creating and nurturing a viable agribusiness sector in Lagos State.
”We may be Nigeria’s smallest state by land mass, lacking the large tracts of land available to others, but we will not allow that to stand in the way of our vision,” Sanwo-Olu said.
He said that the state would maximise the little it had, while also deploying the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit, to create new opportunities to feed residents, Nigeria, and create economic growth and prosperity through agriculture.
Sanwo-Olu, therefore, urged all beneficiaries to judiciously utilise the assets received as business enterprises and ensure they contribute their quota into upscaling domestic food production.
Earlier in her opening speech, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, said that 70 per cent of the beneficiaries were women and youth.
Olusanya said that the programme had been specifically targeted at three value chains of poultry, fisheries (artisanal) and piggery.
She said that the 3,000 beneficiaries would include 300 Lagos Agripreneurship Programme (LAP)/Agricultural Youth Empowerment Scheme (Agric-YES) participants, 400 pig farmers and 680 fishermen.
According to her, they will also include 190 fish cage culture beneficiaries, 360 egg marketers, 500 fish processors, 200 rice farmers and 370 crop farmers.
The commissioner said that since the inception of the programme in 2014, a total of 13,976 beneficiaries had benefitted.
The Oniru of Iruland, Oba AbdulWasiu Lawal said that the Agricultural Value Chain Programme was to mainstream the FADAMA project.
Lawal commended the Lagos State Government for continuing the programme since inception in 2014.
Mrs Chinasa Asonye, the President, Ogbonge Women Farmers Association, Small-Scale Women Farmers Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON), Lagos Chapter, said that the farmers suffered loses in 2020.
Asonye said that the association remained appreciative that the Lagos government came to their aid.
She commended Gov. Sanwo-Olu for his unwaivering support, while promising that the empowerment tools would be maxminally utilised.
A beneficiary, Mr Sunday Hunge, a 24-year-old fishman from Makoko community, thanked the government for the empowerment, adding it would go a long way in increasing the production of the fishing communities.
Hunge, Coordinator of Love and Peace Cooperative Society, Makoko received a fishing boat with engine and nets for his group.
“Many of us are on the verge of giving up but with this support, we will put in more effort to sustain the business,” he said .
Another beneficiary, Mrs Beauty Ogomigo, an aquaculture farmer from Egbe, Idimu area of Lagos, lauded the state government for its support.
She said the empowerment would assist her to stabilise her farming business because she was having problem buying fish feeds.
“I am vey grateful to the Lagos State government for the support during this very difficult time.
“This feed I am receiving will help me grow my business which I am struggling with sustain. nan”