To boost food security in Lagos State, Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has disclosed that the first phase of the largest food logistics hub in West Africa will be inaugurated in 2024.
The governor made the declaration while addressing journalists at the grand finale of the 2023 World Food Day celebration at the Nigeria Police College, Ikeja, Lagos, on Monday.
The governor, accompanied by Abisola Olusanya, the commissioner for agriculture, Oluwarotimi Fashola, special adviser to the Governor on Rice Initiative, and members of the state executive council, inspected various agricultural produce and products on display.
The governor said: “Apart from the middle-level markets that we are building, we are building the largest food logistics hub in the whole of West Africa.
“You were part of the ground-breaking ceremony which we did last year and I want to inform you that before middle-level next year, we should have finished phase one of the project.
“It is the largest logistics hub in the whole of West Africa, you can take a trip there independently and see for yourself, the amount of work that is going on there.
“That logistics food market is supposed to be the central hub where all sorts of food in Lagos will come in, it has cold storage and dry storage and all sorts.
“The middle-level markets will now take it from main hubs before it now goes to the last mile, the corner show markets and the markets that all of you see in the state,” he added.
The governor said the state had a robust integrated plan that would ensure food sufficiency and food adequacy in Lagos in order to mitigate global food insecurity
“We have a robust integrated plan at ensuring that food sufficiency, food adequacy in Lagos are secured because food security globally is becoming an issue.
“For us as a government, we need to be able to help the market, we need to be able to help the farmers and to help our citizens.
“That’s why I have come here personally to come and celebrate with them, to come and celebrate them and to come and say to them that we will not leave them alone.
“We will continue to bring about infrastructure and funding to ensure that the theme for this year leaves no one behind,” he said.
The governor encouraged more people to go into rice cultivation to sustain the state’s rice mill in Imota, Ikorodu.
“We are looking for paddy rice growers in Lagos because we have the biggest rice mill and we are also collaborating with other states.
“Our rice mill still needs a lot of paddy. It does not matter the quantity of tonnes of paddy that they grow, we will buy it from them.
“The same thing with other paddy growers in the country and we need to begin to ensure that food is also affordable and accessible.
“We know that the price of food has gone up but with intervention like this, that brings the market closer to the consumers, am sure that all of the produce that has been brought here today will be picked up and bought up,” he said.
Mr Sanwo-Olu Reuter his administration’s commitment to encouraging farmers while assuring that farming was important to his administration to ensure that food was affordable and accessible for all.
“I am here this afternoon to give them all the encouragement, to show to the world that Lagos can begin to show the way for urban farming.
“We do not have a lot of land but the little one that we have, we are encouraging our farmers to continue to support the needs of the citizens because we know that we need to grow what we eat and eat what we grow.
“We can collaborate with other neighbouring states and other parts of the country to bring all of these produce to Lagos because the population is here.
“For me, it is to continue to encourage the Ministry of Agric and all of their officers, extension workers and project managers to continue to help and hold these farmers, especially in the aquaculture farming, piggery, fishing, poultry and all of the other areas in which we can excel.
“It’s another year of celebration to celebrate them, to thank them, and for the media to know that farming for us is important.
Earlier, Abisola Olusanya, State commissioner for agriculture, said farmers and farmers’ groups with exceptional produce would be recognised and awarded prizes at the event.
Ms Olusanya noted that farmers, fishermen, and processors from the entire length and breadth of the state participated in the celebration.
She said the farmers had put in a lot of work in their different value chains to feed Lagosians and as the saying goes, “no farmer, no nation”.
Femi Oke, the chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in Lagos and South-West Zone, said insecurity, flooding and poor funding pose a great danger to food security in the country.
Mr Oke urged the federal and state governments to increase budgetary allocation to the agricultural sector to increase funding to farmers.
He also called for a reduction in interest rates for farmers and agro-processors to reduce the price of food commodities.
“It is not too conducive for a farmer to be paying between 18 to 24 per cent as interest rate.
“We are looking at how the government can come in with a single-digit interest rate for farmers so that it can reduce the price of commodities in the markets.
“We are seeking government support in this area as we celebrate World Food Day,” he said.
Meanwhile, reports gathered that farmers from the 20 local government areas and 37 local council development areas participated in the exercise.
The programme was tagged: ‘Farm Fair, Shop, Eat and Learn’ was organised to commemorate the 2023 World Food Day with the theme: ‘Water is Life, Water is Food, Leave No One Behind’.
World Food Day is an annual celebration by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations on Oct.16, to encourage action on food insecurity.