OUR AGRIC MASTER PLAN TO BENEFIT LOCAL FARMERS, ELIMINATE IMPORT-DEPENDENCE – SANWO-OLU
•Lagos Governor, Agric Minister Meet On Investment In Marine Resources, Rural Roads
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Thursday, disclosed that his administration has developed a five-year master plan that will guide the State’s intervention and investment in agriculture for a long-term return.
The Governor said the master plan would be raising the State’s capacity to be a key player in agricultural production, while also creating a marketing platform for export of local agro-allied products and improving food security.
Sanwo-Olu spoke while receiving the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammed Sabo Nanono, in a courtesy visit at the State House, Alausa.
The Minister’s visit came on the heels of the recent investment made by the Federal Government to harness Lagos’ marine resources for aquaculture and also the proposed provision of solar power and road infrastructure for the State’s farmers.
Sanwo-Olu said the State Government was ready for collaboration with the Federal Government to stimulate the growth of agro-processing market for local producers and reduce the nation’s dependency on imported agricultural products.
He welcomed collaboration with the Federal Government on exploration of marine resources, construction of rural roads and provision of power infrastructure to boost agricultural output.
He said: “We are excited that the Federal Government is coming up with investment in strategic areas of agriculture to transform the sector. It will interest you to know that Lagos has started to take similar steps by coming up with a five-year agricultural and food security master plan in response to the challenges we face. This master plan will be guiding our intervention in various areas of agriculture. It will not only improve food security, it will also create market opportunity for local farmers.
“Today, Lagos is building the biggest rice mill in the country to ramp up national agricultural output. Beyond this, our Government is developing initiatives that will catalyse agro-processing market in Lagos, with the objective to reduce food importation and over dependence on finished products from outside the country.
“The State is surrounded by large bodies of water and we are positioning ourselves for collaboration that will enhance effective exploration of our marine resources. We are ready to work collaboratively with the Federal Government to harness the State’s agricultural resources and I promise that you have found the right partner in Lagos for the initiative you have brought forward to change the face of agriculture.”
The Governor described agriculture as a “major stake” into which any serious Government must invest, noting that the lessons drawn from the negative impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) on farming and agriculture should not be lost among the current crop of leaders.
Sanwo-Olu said Lagos had started building capacities in agriculture to enable the State mitigate the effect of food shortage in the event of resurgence of global pandemic in the future.
He said: “Lagos may not have large space for agriculture but we have the capacity to boost Agric markets through processing of raw materials and provision of necessary machinery. We have started to build capacities and raise our investment in agro-processing, given the understanding of global pandemic.
“We need to have reserve that would be enough to feed our people in the event of pandemic. The current COVID-19 pandemic would have brought our country to the edge, if we had not focused on agriculture.”
The Governor praised President Muhammadu Buhari for the choice of Nanono as supervising administrator of the Ministry, saying the Minister came in with energy and deep knowledge of the sector.
He said the Federal Government’s initiative would increase food accessibility, lower prices and improve the quality of products in the market. He pledged that Lagos would be a willing partner to drive the projects.
Nanono said Lagos had offered the nation the needed industrial backing to boost agriculture, stressing that the State played key role in Nigeria’s rise on the global ranking to become the 13th largest rice producer in the world and first in Africa.
The Minister said the Federal Government was ready to step up its partnership with Lagos for improved agricultural production, confirming that there would be more investment in marine resources.
Nanono disclosed that the Federal Government would also be making funds available for the construction of rural roads and provision of solar power for farmers in Lagos.