Governor Babatunde Fashola
By Crusoe Osagie
The Lagos State Government has solicited the World Bank and the Federal Government’s support of to tackle challenges hindering marketing of agricultural produce, in order to boost the agric sector and ensure food security in the country.
The Commissioner for Agriculture and Cooperatives, Mr. Gbolahan Lawal, explained that marketing of agricultural produce was still a challenge, stating that all over the world farmers produce but have no access to the global markets.
The commissioner, who spoke during the 7th Joint Federal Government of Nigeria/World Bank supervision mission of the Commercial Agriculture Development Project (CADP), stressed the need for the provision of infrastructure to market agricultural products in the country.
“We need to help our small and medium scale farmers in producing high quality produce so that they can access the global market and also prevent them from going through distress in trade,” he said.
“We are involving many people in the agricultural sector, a lot of youths have been introduced into aquaculture and we are also doing a lot of Public Private Partnership (PPP) in agriculture with local and multinational companies,” he said.
Lawal pointed out that CADP since commencement of implementation in the state has made some inroads into supporting the food security agenda of the government especially in areas of rehabilitation of farm access roads and the provision of rural energy.
He stated that in the last 18 months, 22.19 kilometres of rural access roads have been rehabilitated across the state where clusters of benefiting Community Interest Groups (CIGs) are involved in production.
He also said the project has supported the rice development efforts of the State through the rehabilitation of two of her rice processing centres as well as the establishment of market information kiosks.
“Available records show that meaningful show that meaningful support has been given to over 2700 commercial farmers, processors and marketers in the state, and through these efforts marked improvement was recorded in aggregate food production in poultry, fish and rice in the state,” he added.
He said developmental projects in the agricultural sector are aimed at providing food security and job opportunities to the teeming populace of the state, as well as adding value to productivity and profit for farmers.
He commended the effort of the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, for the prompt and regular payment of the state’s counterpart contributions to all donor and World Bank assisted projects for the successful implementation of these projects.
Also speaking at the event, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Mr. Olajide Basorun, said in order to achieve agricultural sustainability, the state government has shifted focus to PPP approach maintain that it is evident in the number of agricultural enclaves in form of farming estates which are commodity specific to maximise its agricultural land usage.
“Hence, we expect that the support of projects like CADP will be directed at these laudable projects in terms of infrastructure development and support services, while not undermining opportunities of our numerous small and medium scale farmers scattered across the state,” he said.
Basorun stated that the present administration takes food security very important and tries to meet its responsibilities in terms of oversight functions and the deployment of competent personnel to the project.
“All hands have been on deck ever since the inauguration of the project in the State since May, 2009 and I wish to say that Lagos is not resting on its oars in the successful implementation of the project. This is an opportunity for us to contribute our quota to agricultural development and food security in the state and the nation as a whole,” he stated.