Lagos State consumes N135 billion worth of rice and 2.19 million herds of cattle annually, says Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.
The governor who disclosed this on Wednesday at the State House, Ikeja, Lagos, southwest Nigeria on the occasion of the signing of Memorandum of Understanding between Lagos and Kebbi State on the development of Commodity Value Chains, said the future of Lagos State was partly tied to deliberate resolution on food security.
He said food production and self-sufficiency required its immediate attention at policy and strategic levels to sustain the state, adding that Lagos State is the largest consumer of food commodities in Nigeria by virtue of its population.
“We have the market, with the required purchasing power also. Lagos State has an estimated consumption of over 798,000 metric tonnes of milled rice per year which is equivalent to 15.96 million of 50kg bags, with a value of N135 billion per annum.
“We have the economic prowess to produce rice locally. The era of imported rice is gone. The reality is for all of us to embrace the consumption of local foodstuff and commodities. In addition to rice, Lagos is currently consuming 6,000 herds of cattle daily which may increase to 8,000 in the next five years,” he said.
According to Ambode, the bulk of the vegetables produced in the country end up in the Lagos markets as the state is one of the largest producers of poultry and thus had a large demand for maize for livestock feed production.
“The state also houses most of the industrial users of wheat and sorghum; mostly flour mills, bakeries, breweries and food manufacturers. Kebbi State, on the other hand, is blessed with a vast arable land suitable for the cultivation of rice, wheat, groundnut, maize, sorghum and sugar cane.
“It is an agrarian State with over 1.2 million hectares of arable land characterised by very large floodplains, lowland swamps and gentle slopes. In the 2014/2015 wet season, over 600,000 hectares of land was deployed for rice cultivation in the three senatorial areas of the state.
“The people are traditionally rice farmers with average land holding of about 10 hectares. currently, Kebbi has over 50,000 metric tonnes of paddy in store produced from the last two planting seasons,” he said.
The governor said with these considerations in mind, Lagos and Kebbi States had decided to collaborate and exploit areas of comparative advantage to create value for both states, saying that this alliance would ensure food security, job creation, increase in farmers’ income and the overall improvement in the living conditions of the residents of both states through wealth creation and poverty reduction.
He added that the collaboration was in line with the clarion call and policy direction given by the President, Muhammadu Buhari, on the need “to feed ourselves.”
Ambode said the joint venture would be implemented using a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), LASKEB Agricultural Production and Marketing Company (LAPMCO), and that the major areas of focus would be the development of Commodity Value Chains with emphasis on rice, wheat, groundnut, onions, maize/sorghum and beef.
“The numerous thousands of our market women and men can become key employers of labour as distributors of ‘Ibile Rice’. We can also brand and package rice in the names of our distributors and market women. As a state, we shall adopt our local rice as a state dish in all ramifications.
“The special purpose vehicle will allow the entrance of private sector investors and other states in expanding the rice mill at Imota, Ikorodu and other locations. We have already designated the 100 hectare land at Imota as the Agric Park in the State. Other locations in and outside the State will be vigorously activated to fulfil our mission in record time.
“This is the first time in the history of Nigeria that two States are collaborating to develop their agricultural potentials. Our MOU with Kebbi State government today, signals the commencement of a new beginning of cooperation, partnership and commonsense revolution – the ‘change’ in the APC mantra-that calls for patriotism in all facets of life. It can only get better for us as Nigerians as we jointly chart the path to greatness through this agricultural revolution,” he stated.
Speaking, Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State said that the two states had a long history of trade partnership and were just making it stronger with the MOU, adding that the partnership would provide 60 to 70 per cent of the country’s rice need.
He said his state had four emirates, including Gwandu, Argungu, Yauri and Zuru Districts in some particular goods and that they would all contribute to the commodity value chain.
“We believe in the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari to transform Nigeria from dependency on oil. We believe that the two states can significantly contribute to and improve food sufficiency and food security for our country. We believe that the of people our states can benefit from this cooperation and we can jointly add value by creating employment,” he said.