No fewer than 1,140 residents of Lagos have been empowered by the Lagos State Government under its agricultural value and empowerment programme which is being implemented to ensure the reduction of poverty in the State, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode has said.
Ambode who made this known on Monday at the grand finale of activities to commemorate 2017 World Food Day and the flag off ceremony of the Agricultural Value Chains Empowerment Programme noted that the 1,140 beneficiaries would also be supported in various farming enterprise and empowered to boost their productive capacities in line with the State’s food security objective.
The Governor who was represented by the Commissioner for Wealth Creation and Employment, Mr. Babatunde Durosinmi-Etti stated that the theme for this year’s World Food Day – ‘Change the Future of Migration: Invest in Food Security and Rural Development’ cannot be over emphasised.
“It will be necessary to remind ourselves about the journey that led us to the situation we are trying to address today. Prior to the discovery of oil in the late 60s, agriculture was the mainstay of our economy and food security was not an issue as we produced enough not only to feed ourselves but also for export”, he said.
Ambode however noted that food security became a major challenge as a result of the drastic decline in oil revenue, stressing that it has now become imperative to conserve foreign exchange by reviving the agricultural sector through policies and programmes that will encourage more people to go into farming and increase food production.
The governor added that the State government as a matter of policy has ensured that basic infrastructural facilities are evenly distributed across the state especially in rural communities despite the fact that most farming activities are based in the rural and semi urban areas.
“Our objective is to make our communities liveable and centres of economic activities. This strategy we believe, will reverse the trend of rural to urban migration and also make farming more attractive especially to young people”, Ambode said.
He noted that the State government aside improving the quality of lives of rural areas where farming activities take place is also providing infrastructure especially roads to facilitate the transportation of harvested produce to markets in the cities. This he said will address the issue of post-harvest wastages which will in turn translate to more income for farmers.
“In addition to the efforts of this administration in the area of upgrading the quality and quantity of rural infrastructure, our partnership with the World Bank under the 3rd National FADAMA Development Project which aims at increasing rice production is yielding the desired result with the addition of 13 kilometres length to the network of roads in the State”, the Governor stated.
While stressing that his administration is committed to ensuring food self-sufficiency for the teeming population through well designed and thought initiatives, Ambode said that his administration will not relent in its effort to encourage farming activities in the rural communities by reducing the infrastructural gap between rural and urban centres.
Earlier in his remarks, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Oluwatoyin Surau opined that the State government through various the farming enterprises which include; Egg Marketers, Piggery, Butchery Poultry Production, Vegetable Production, Perishable Produce Trading, Sheep and Goat Production, Aquaculture, Fish Feed Input, Artisanal Fisheries and Fish Processing is working towards food sufficiency .
“This administration has made food security one of its cardinal programmes which serve as tool to poverty alleviation and sustainable economic growth through agricultural development to underscore fiscal responsibility”, he said.
Suarau added that the recently acquired 32 tonnes per hour rice mill will create no fewer than 200,000 jobs in the state while ensuring sustainable supply of wholesome rice at affordable price to the populace in Lagos. This he said will help to reduce rice importation into Nigeria market.
“Lagos is also collaborating with five South Western States – Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti and Ondo States in the area of rice production so as to ensure that adequate rice paddy is supplied to the 32 Metric Tonne per hour rice mill”, the Commissioner said.
He stated that farmers in the State have been assisted, through various programmes and projects, with valuable inputs such as fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides adding that government is also increasing their access to mechanised farming through purchasing of tractors and other related implements.