Food Security: We Have Kept Faith With Our Promise, Says Fashola
• Micro-finance support scheme, other facilities soon to be established
Apr 29, 2010 - Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Thursday declared that his administration has kept faith with its promise to improve the food security of the State through participation in farming in the State’s areas of comparative advantage.
Governor Fashola, who spoke at the Blue Roof, LTV 8 venue of this year’s Eko Farmers’ Appreciation Day with the theme, “Rewarding Eko Farmers: The Catalyst for Food Security”, said as a mark of its seriousness towards keeping the promise, the administration has increased the Capital allocation to the Agricultural Sector by more than 1, 000 percent from less than N100 million per annum to over N1 billion in 2009.
According to the Governor, “This year, the allocation to the Agricultural Sector exceeds N2 billion on the aggregate if Multilateral projects funding in the sector is added”, noting that such areas of comparative advantage include fishing, marine agriculture, general poultry farming, vegetable farming, rice farming and animal husbandry.
Assuring that the several projects and programmes initiated by his administration in the listed areas of comparative advantage would move the State towards the desired goal of availability of food all year round and at affordable prices, the Governor said Government has also increased the production of rice in the State in the last two years from cultivation of 20 hectares to 250 hectares.
“Our plan is not only to increase it to 500 hectares, but to use Science to increase the yield per hectare and develop large scale processing and storage sites”, Governor Fashola said adding that the State has all the potentials to sustain healthy food security.
Debunking the notion that Lagos is not agrarian and has no practicing farmers, the Governor declared, “The existence of over 300, 000 farming families in Epe, Ikorodu, Lekki, Alimoso, Ojo and Badagry areas of the State and specializing in capture fisheries, livestock production with emphasis on poultry as well as arable crops production with emphasis on vegetable, is overwhelming evidence of the Agrarian nature of our State and the significant contribution of our rural dwellers to the growth of the economy”.
On the plans of his administration to further enhance the sector, Governor Fashola said the Government will soon establish a Micro-Finance Support Scheme for the State’s rural farmers to enable them access fund more easily in order to improve on their farming activities and increase food productivity adding that the
Scheme is one of the facilities lined up to assist the State’s farmers in achieving food security in the State.
The Governor, who urged citizens of the State to cultivate the habit of having homestead gardens in their houses, also disclosed that the Government would soon distribute 51 tractors to cooperatives at 60 percent of its cost “in order to reduce the drudgery of farming, especially among ageing farmers”.
According to the Governor, Government is also working with various interest groups who bring food supplies to the State under its national strategic partnership to eliminate unauthorized levies and charges that have raised the cost of food items in the State.
Other facilities and programmes planned by the Government to achieve food security in the State, Governor Fashola disclosed, include approving the participation of the State in the third phase of the World Bank Assisted Fadama 11 project which commenced in 2009, participation of the State, as one of the six states, in the Commercial Agriculture Development Project (CADP), training of 1, 000 youths under the Agriculture Youth Empowerment Scheme (Agric YES) as well as approval for the participation of the State in the IFAD assisted Rural Finance Institute Building Programme(RUFIN).
The Governor said the State Government also has a long term plan of applying to other states which have land for farming to allocate to Lagos State to own and operate farms there adding, “If other states can own land as guest houses and liaison offices in our State, I believe that as a matter of reciprocity we can own and operate farms in other states”.
Governor Fashola further disclosed that he would soon be meeting with leaders of the various traders and agricultural associations to receive and implement the report of the Committee he set up earlier as part of the national strategic partnership to eliminate levies and charges that have raised the cost of food items adding that the leaders had already assured him that food prices could come down if the unauthorized levies and charges on food items are eliminated.
On the Fadama 111 Project, Governor Fashola, who said the State successfully implemented Fadama 11 and had no difficulty in approving the State’s participation in the third phase of the project, declared, “The N650 million project would provide pilot assets, rural infrastructure, inputs and capacity building for farmers statewide”, adding that Thursday marked the launch of the project.
He said the 1, 000 youth being trained under the Agric Yes Scheme will learn the use of the most contemporary farming skills and techniques in collaboration with the State Government’s Israeli partners “along the models of the world famous Israeli kibbutz farming settlements”, adding that “the first 200 new age, new breed, next generation farmers have completed their training and are about to graduate”.
Highlighting the roll of the Private Sector in the promotion of agriculture in the State, Governor Fashola declared, “The collaboratory efforts of the Private sector is epitomized at the Ikorodu Fish Farm and Piggery Estates which are the first of its kind in Nigeria and other estates for Fisheries and Vegetable that will commence operations soon”, adding that the Agricultural Input Supply Agency has been recapitalized “to provide quality input at affordable rates to our farmers and fishermen”.
Thanking the farmers, especially those recognized at the occasion, for their efforts at providing food and fibre for the citizens, the Governor declared, “I urge you all to see this recognition as a call to service by doing more work to ensure availability of food at affordable price on the common man’s table”.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Cooperatives, Chief Enock Ajiboso, said the Eko Farmers’ Appreciation Day was conceived with the intention of the Government to appreciate, celebrate and encourage farmers, fish folks and other stakeholders in the Agricultural Sector “who have made tremendous contributions in the growth of Agriculture in the State”.
According to him, “The farmers have contributed to the successful implementation of many of the policies and programmes initiated by this administration”, adding that with the active participation of the farmers, his Ministry has been able to carry out projects and activities that are executed to achieve sustainable food security in the State.
Listing some of the projects to include Marine Agriculture/Aquaculture Development Programme, Agriculture Youth Empowerment Scheme (Agric YES and Rice for Job) and Replication of Agriculture Estates, such as for Fish at Araga, Epe and Piggery at Gberige, Ikorodu, among others, the Commissioner declared, “Let ne reiterate that the State Government will continue to provide the enabling environment for private sector participation to boost and increase agriculture production”.
Highlight of the Day, was the recognition of Winners of Awards in 31 categories which include, Best Aqua culturist won by Palm Royal Food Limited, Best Artisanal Fisherman won by Mr. Liasu Bakare from Ibeju-Lekki, Overall Best Agro-Allied Industry won by Dizengoff W.A. Ltd., and Best Milling Company won by Premier Feeds Ltd.
Other winners include Chi Ltd which won the Overall Best Agro-Processor, Shoprite which won the Best Retailer of Agricultural Products Award, MITV which won the Best Electronic Media Award in the coverage of Agricultural activities, and Segun Bakare of the Punch who won the Best Agric Photo Journalist Award among others.
Also present at the occasion were the former Chairman House Committee on Agriculture and Cooperatives, Hon. Babatunde Adewale who won the award for Best Legislative Support to Agriculture, members of the State Executive Council and Legislature, former Military Governor of Ogun State, Colonel Daniel Akintonde, the Ojomu of Ajiranland, HRH Oba Tijani Adetunji Akinloye Sateru 11 who won the award for Best Support to Agriculture at the Community level, the General Manager of Shoprite Nigeria, Mr. Anton Wageneer, other Private Sector Operators and top government funtionaries.