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Lagos and the quest for food security

In the last two years, the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration has put in place cogent strategies to stimulate food security in Lagos State. Though the efforts are beginning to yield concrete results, the government is not resting on its oars.

Governor Sanwo-Olu recently unveiled an audacious agricultural growth plan that will further enhance food sufficiency in the state. The five-year food security road map will see a sustained public and private sectors’ investment in agricultural value chains to give the state comparative advantages in the sector and enhance the self-sufficiency in food production from the current 18 per cent up to 40 per cent over the next 60 months.

The projection is that the total investment in the agricultural sector from the government, private sector, donor agencies and development partners will run into over $10 billion in the next five years

Part of the plan is to treat agriculture as a business venture by concentrating on value chains where the state has comparative advantage, and thus develop strategic partnerships that would stimulate investment in the state.

This is to deliberately develop an Agro-economy that would serve the twin purposes of producing sufficient food for the growing population, as well as developing a smooth-running Agric sector that would truly transform the state into 21st financial hub.

In view of its high demand in most homes, the government has decided to give a boost to rice production. There is a high demand for rice, which has accumulated in a huge gap between the supply and demand for rice. In order to redress this, the Sanwo-Olu administration is on the verge of completing the Integrated Rice Mill at Imota, in Ikorodu.

When completed, the nearly completed 32 metric-tonnes per hour mill is expected to produce 2.4 million bags of 50kg rice per annum, while providing a total of 267,580 jobs at different stages of the value chains, reduce the cost of rice locally, enhance food self-sufficiency and revenue generation in the state and the country at large.

In preparation for the take-off of the mill, the government has already trained, built capacity and empowered 800 farmers across the State. The farmers were also encouraged to produce the varieties and high-quality paddy required by the mill for offtake.

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The Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project (APPEALS) is another strategy designed to build capacities of actors in the rice, aquaculture and poultry value chains towards large scale production and processing of rice, eggs, poultry and fish.

35% of its beneficiaries are women, while 10% are People with Disabilities (PWD) and youths. Under the scheme, hundreds of women and youths, with interest in farming and agro processing, have been empowered through the Women and Youth Empowerment Programme.

The whole essence is to address the healthiness of food items, reduction in post-harvest losses, improving linkages with industry in respect to backward integration as well as access to financial services and markets. All these efforts are targeted towards increasing the state’s self-sufficiency in food security.

Already, the government had begun the implementation of various projects in the agricultural space that were targeted at revolutionizing food production, meet food production targets and consequently reduce dependence on other states for food supply.

The APPEAL programme is not only targeted at farmers who are the direct beneficiaries, but also at service providers, transporters, input manufacturers and suppliers within the system whose services are required for the successful implementation of the project.

The Eko-City Farmers’ Market (ECFM) is another initiative being used to increase food security in the state. It is aimed at showcasing what a standard produce market should look like in a 21st-century economy. It is to also serve as a hub within the metropolis where farmers could meet with consumers/traders to sell their products under a well-organized structure and a beautiful outlay. The maiden edition of the market was held on Sunday, 23rd February 2020 at Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos.

Similarly, the Agric-YES facilities at Badagry and Araga, Epe have now been upgraded to Lagos State Food Production Centres to increase food production in the State. At full capacity, the centres will produce 62,250 birds for egg production per cycle; 104,000 birds for meat production per cycle; 267.6 tonnes of fish per cycle and 25 tonnes of assorted vegetables per cycle.

Other food security initiatives of the Sanwo-Olu administration in the last two years include Lagos Agripreneurship Programme (L.A.P.), which has empowered 15,000 youths and women in the various agricultural value chains, Lagos Seafood Day, which projects the aquaculture and seafood potentials of the state, Fish Farmers Cage Culture System, Home Grown School Feeding Programme, reform of red meat value chain, maiden international Coconut Summit, disinfection and decontamination of twenty-six major live bird markets and construction of a water project at Ikorodu Fish Farm Estate, Odogunyan.

Others include appraisal of farm estate and settlements in the State, commissioning of the FADAMA food market at Agbalata, Badagry, quality input supply with development of robust business model for our farmers, development of vegetables value chain in terms of production, transportation, storage, conditioning and handling, deployment of Information and Community Technology (ICT) for agricultural development and food security

The Sanwo-Olu led government has, no doubt, enhanced investment in food security in the last two years. However, for the dividends of the investment to be enduring, spirited participation of all stakeholders in the sector towards mitigating the challenges of food security in the state is still desirable.

*Ogunrinde is of the Features Unit, Lagos State Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.

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