Operation Feed The Nation:Sanwo-Olu Empowers 3000 Farmers With Modern Farm Implements

By Benjamin Omoike 

Lagos State governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Thursday said the state, through its five-year Agricultural and Food System Development Road Map is getting ready to feed Lagosians and Nigerians, notwithstanding its small size.

Governor Sanwo-Olu had recently launched the Lagos State five-year Agricultural and Food System Development Road Map, aimed at charting a focused and coordinated path for the desired development of the sector, disclosing that the initiative was expected to provide over 20,000 jobs.

Cross section of the farmers

He gave this assurance while speaking at the flag-off of Productive Assets and Inputs Distribution under the year 2021 Agricultural Value Chains Enterprise Activation Programme held at Police College, Ikeja, Lagos.

At the event, no fewer than 3,000 farm implements were distributed to farmers, aimed at enhancing the objective, with the beneficiaries getting tractors, ploughs, fishing boats and gear; harvesters, threshers, destoning machines, de-feathering machines, medication, herbicides, fish juveniles, pig growers, smoking kilns, eggs, among others.

The farm inputs are to be utilised in farming communities across the agricultural zones of Badagry, Epe and Ikorodu.

“Despite our small size in terms of landmass, we want to eat what we produce and produce what we eat by feeding Lagosians and Nigerians,” the governor said.

The governor, while expressing delight over the initiative, described it as yet another milestone in fulfilling his administration’s electoral promises to the people of Lagos State, with regards to food security, and against the backdrop of our T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda.

“I am delighted to be here with you at the flag-off of distribution of agricultural productive assets and inputs under the 2021 Agricultural Value Chains Enterprise Activation Programme.

“This is yet another milestone in fulfilling our electoral promises to the people of Lagos State, with regards to food security, and against the backdrop of our T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda,” Sanwo-Olu said.

According to him, the Agricultural Value Chains Enterprise Activation Programme is a clear demonstration of the commitment of his administration to the development and expansion of the agricultural sector in Lagos State, driven by a “farm to table” model that aligns with the goal of making Lagos a truly 21st century economy.

This was just as he noted that the determination to increase food production in the state from the current 20% to at least 50% of demand by 2025 had been emboldened with 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.

“Today, through this Activation Programme, our administration is supporting 3,000 women, youths and vulnerable Lagosians with equipment and agricultural input that will help make a significant difference in the quality and scale of their agricultural practice. The interventions 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.

“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.

“I am pleased to note that the Lagos State government has put in place a strategy for the proper utilization and continuous maintenance of these assets, to ensure that we derive maximum value from them. We are also working with a financial institution regarding appropriate financing structures for the guaranteed sustainability of the programme.

“Our determination to increase food production in the state from the current 20% to at least 50% of demand by 2025 has been emboldened with 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.

“We will maximize the little we have, while also deploying the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit we are known for, to create new opportunities to feed ourselves and feed Nigeria, and create economic growth and prosperity through agriculture,” the governor said.

Speaking further, Governor Sanwo-Olu, while disclosing that available

data showed that Lagos alone accounted for almost 50 per cent of the quantity of beef consumed in Nigeria today, said what this suggests is that Lagos is highly vulnerable to supply and logistics disruptions as any minor disruption or shortfall in supply, arising from disease outbreaks or other causes, could potentially have a devastating effect on the market here.

He said it was such reasoning that made the government launched the “Lagos Red Meat Value Chain Transformation Program to attract private sector participation in the value chain, stimulate local production and processing of meat, and ensure disease control.”

According to him, the programme has since taken a new format and a name change “into the “Agricultural Value Chains Enterprise Activation Programme,” saying the belief is that “this new name will constantly remind beneficiaries that what we are doing is actually activating new business ventures for them, which means that they must reciprocate by working hard to nurture their businesses to maturity.”

The governor, however, sought the support of all, saying it was certain that the government cannot do it alone, and, therefore, needed the support of the private sector and other stakeholders.

“Let me make it clear that the government cannot do it alone. We need the support of the private sector and other stakeholders, the beneficiaries, agricultural associations and unions, local communities, traditional and community leaders, the media, youth groups, and many more. Let us join hands to feed Lagos State, feed Nigeria and build lasting and transformational wealth through agriculture,” he said.

“It is only when today’s beneficiaries succeed that the programme can stand the chance of being sustainable,” he added.

The Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, in her remark, explained that 70per cent of the beneficiaries were women and youth, adding that the programme had been specifically targeted at three value chains of poultry, fisheries (artisanal) and piggery. 

According to her, the 3,000 beneficiaries would include 300 Lagos Agripreneurship Programme (LAP)/Agricultural Youth Empowerment Scheme (Agric-YES) participants, 400 pig farmers, 680 fishermen, 190 fish cage culture beneficiaries, 360 egg marketers, 500 fish processors, 200 rice farmers and 370 crop farmers.

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