Segun James in Lagos
The Lagos State Government has revealed an ambitious plan to increase its food self-sufficiency from its 20 percent current status to 100 percent before the end of 2023.
As part of a programme for achieving food sufficiency by 2023, the state government has also earmarked a sum of N10 billion for the establishment of Aquaculture Centre in Igbonla, Epe under a Public Private Partnership arrangement.
Hamzat unveiled the aquaculture centre alongside the acting Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Bisola Olusanya; Special Adviser to the Governor on Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr. Solomon Saanu and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Olayiwole Onasanya, among others.
He explained the rationale behind the Lagos Aquaculture Centre (LACE), which according to him, was designed to boost growth and development of the aquaculture industry in the state through the direct production of 2,000 tonnes of fish annually.
Specifically, the deputy governor explained the plan of the state government “to ensure food sufficiency in the state. Currently, our level of food self-sufficiency in Lagos State stands at about 20 percent leaving a deficit of about 80 percent, which is mostly accounted for by supplies from other states.”
He said the goal was to achieve 100 percent increase in food self-sufficiency by 2023.
He said: “We are committed to meeting this target with you our key partner and through the implementation of programmes, policies and projects which are aimed at maximizing our comparative and competitive advantage in agricultural space.”
Hamzat said he was satisfied with the progress the state had been making in the implementation of the various projects and initiatives towards achieving food self-sufficiency in the state.
He said 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.”
In line with this realisation and to ensure sustained food production and supply in the state, the deputy governor disclosed that the state government had established the Lagos Food Production Centres in Badagry and Epe Local Government Areas.
“The two centres will ensure the resuscitation, expansion, stocking of agricultural production facilities in various value chains and develop Agro-Tourism Centres in Lagos State Songhai project in Badagry and the Agricultural Training Institute, Araga, Epe”, he added.
Explaining the aquaculture scheme, Hamzat said the project would be located on a 35-hectares of land in Igbonla, Epe “to provide inputs for fish farmers under the Lagos Nucleus Farms (LANS) Scheme and serve as off-taker for fish farm clusters in the state.”
Also, the deputy governor explained that agriculture programme remained a key component through which the administration intended to realise its agenda of making Lagos a 21st century economy.
He said some of the objectives the government aimed to achieve with agriculture under the broad agenda include food security, creating employment opportunities for the youths and wealth for farmers and all those who operate within the agriculture value chain.
Olusanya, the acting commissioner of agriculture, clarified that the overall aim of the programme “is to provide the necessary agricultural inputs and productive assets to farmers as a means of achieving improved food production and supply as well as delivering optimum economic benefits to farmers and other operators.”
She explained that the programme “is also a means of channelling the needed support to smallholder farmers who are actively engaged in the various agriculture value chains thereby creating further wealth and job opportunities.
Since inception of the programme in 2014, the acting commissioner disclosed that a total of 11,233 farmers, fishermen, butchers, processors and marketers had been empowered.
In 2020, she said at least 2,743 beneficiaries would be empowered with various agricultural inputs and productive assets in addition to the existing 2896 farmers that had already been empowered through the distribution of maize and Sorghums as palliatives for their livestock and farming activities.
She said agro productive processing enhancement activities and livelihood improvement support program APPEALS would support thousands of farmers across the poultry, aquaculture and rice value chains.
The acting commissioner, therefore, urged all beneficiaries of the support to make judicious use of the facilities the state government distributed with a view to achieving 100 percent food sufficiency.