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Lagos Govt seeks private sector involvement to boost agric investment, jobs creation

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Prince Gbolahan Lawal, the Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, says private sector involvement will boost agriculture investment, development and job opportunities in the state.

Lawal made the assertion in a keynote address at a one-day Agricultural Stakeholders Engagement in Ikeja.

The commissioner urged stakeholders to project agriculture as a combination of business and development that would stimulate investment in the state.

He expressed the commitment of the state government toward ensuring that the state attain food sufficiency as part of the efforts to making Lagos a 21st Century economy that works.

Lawal urged the stakeholders to also come up with strategies that would move the key agricultural value chains in the state to the top and provide the need to leverage human capital.

“I have no doubts in my mind that this will lead to increase in Internally Generated revenue (IGR) for the state government on one hand, as well as leverage potential of other states and access to the Lagos markets.

“Lagos is the melting port of Nigeria; Lagos has GDP that is equal to over 16 West African countries. If we ignore Lagos, am sure we all know what will happen to Nigeria.

“Food security is a very paramount sector that we, as government in the last 30 years, have serious and concerted efforts to ensure that we have food security and essentially, food self-sufficiency in Lagos.

“We don’t want to remain on the food sufficiency or self-sufficiency level, but we want to become an exporting country,” he said.

Lawal said that before the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, Nigeria had been importing rice and was the second highest importer of Thai rice, after Philippines.

“Until last four years, the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria was not doing much, but see what is happening today, they are producing 10 million tons of rice in Nigeria.

“What we are going to focus on is, how we can make our contribution and government intervention robust in the agriculture sector, that is why we are here.

“We do not want to engage in the usual way of predict and provide policy.

“Often times, government will bring up policies without major stakeholders involvement.

“That is why today, we have all the stakeholders, private organisations, farmers association, the academia and financial institutions here today,” he said.

The commissioner listed what the summit would focus on to include: rice, poultry, fisheries, piggery, coconut, ICT development, mechanisation and vegetables farming and development.

According to him, in the last four years, the major intervention from Lagos State Government was a 32 capacity tons mill.

“As at today, we are about 55 per cent completion rate, with that rice mill, thousands of people will be employed, directly or indirectly,” he said.

The commissioner said because of the closeness of Lagos to the border, over 32 million rice were still being imported or smuggled.

“The closeness of Lagos to the border is not an incentive, but it is something we have to look into. We need to unpack the strategy at this stakeholders’ meeting.

“In the last three years, Lagos established a relationship with Kebbi State, as at the last time I checked, Lagos has bought over 648,000 50 kilogramme of rice.

“That is a major transaction and a major sister state relationship that had worked,” he said.

Lawal said the state government would not limit itself to rice production but embrace onions cultivation too.

“We are not limiting our self to only rice production, we should be looking in the direction of onions,’’ the commissioner said.

He said that the state government would commence Sunday market under the Eko City Farmer market starting from December, 2019.

He said the initiative was to bring farmers together once a month to a central location where Lagos residents could patronise them and they make more profit in return.

Lawal said the state government would also train 15,000 young existing and new farmers with the expected outcome of creating capacity to serve consumer demands and with an expected output of large scale dissemination of production.

Earlier, Ms Abisola Olusanya, Special Adviser to the Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Agriculture, said the summit was a pointer to the readiness of the state government to revitalise the already existing and introduce new technology-based initiative.

Olusanya said the initiative would achieve food security, improved nutrition, employment generation and improve economic prosperity through a combination of business and social development platforms in partnership with the private sector.

“We are gathered here today as stakeholders in agric-space with varying interest, but a common goal to examine the competitively advantageous value chains of Lagos State and develop a living road map that will be implemented by this administration.

“It is our hope that this summit will generate life transformation ideas, collaborations and partnerships that will lead to improved productivity, environmental sustenance and profitability for all stakeholders and Lagosians.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the summit featured syndicate session on rice, red meat, poultry, fisheries and vegetables farming to develop a five-year road map for the state.
OOG/GOK
Edited by Olagoke Olatoye

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