By Oluwatope Lawanson/Olayinka Olawale
Lagos, July 28, 2020 – The Lagos State Government is to establish N10 billion Lagos Aquaculture Centre of Excellence (LACE) in Igbonla, Epe, under a Public\Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.
The state Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, gave the assurance on Tuesday at the distribution of agricultural inputs and productive assets to 2,743 farmers under the 2020 Agricultural Value Chains Empowerment Programme.
The governor, who was represented by his deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, said that the centre would be located on a 35-hectare land.
According to him, the project is designed to boost the growth and development of aquaculture industry in the state through direct production of 2,000 tonnes of fish annually.
He said it would also ensure provision of inputs to fish farmers under the Lagos Nucleus Farms scheme, and serve as off-taker for fish farm clusters in the state.
Sanwo-Olu said the state government would also establish two food production centres in Epe and Badagry to be known as Lagos Food Production Centres, in order to sustain food production and supply.
The governor said the two centres would ensure resuscitation, expansion and stocking of agricultural production facilities in various value chains.
He added that the two centres would develop agro-tourism centres in the Lagos State Songhai Project in Badagry and the Agricultural Training Institute, Araga, Epe.
“The experience of the past few months during the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic has further reinforced the urgent need to expand the state’s food production base to meet such a spontaneous increase in demand for food in the future.
“In line with this realisation, and to ensure sustained food production and supply in the state, we are establishing Lagos Food Production Centres in Badagry and Epe.
“In addition, we are establishing the Lagos Aquaculture Centre of Excellence (LACE) N10 Billion project to be located on 35 hectares of land in Igbonla in Epe under a public\private partnership arrangement,” he said.
According to the governor, LACE is designed to boost the growth and development of aquaculture industry in the state through direct production of 2,000 tonnes of fish annually.
“Also, it will ensure provision of inputs to fish farmers under the Lagos Nucleus Farms scheme and serve as off-taker for fish farm clusters in the State.”
Sanwo-Olu said that the agriculture sector remained a key component through which the state government would realise its dream of making Lagos a 21st Century economy, adding that it was a pillar of the government’s T.H.EM.E.S agenda.
He said that the annual agricultural value chain empowerment programme was one of the strategies designed to boost food production and supply through the provision of agricultural inputs and productive assets to farmers and other players in the value chain.
“This year’s edition is quite auspicious coming at a time we need to do a lot to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the productive capacity of our farmers and other actors within the agricultural value chain.
“Currently, our level of food self-sufficiency stands at about 20 per cent, leaving a deficit of about 80 per cent, which is mostly accounted for by supplies from other states.
“Our goal is to achieve 100 per cent increase in food self-sufficiency by 2023.
“We are committed to meeting this target with you as our key partner and through the implementation of our programmes, policies and projects which are aimed at maximising our comparative and competitive advantage in the agricultural space,” Sanwo-Olu said.
According to him, some of the policies, programmes and projects are designed to improve the capacities of agricultural value chain actors, and revolutionise agricultural productivity with the introduction of modern technology and best practices.
“The short, medium and long-term goals of these efforts include making the agricultural space attractive for private investment, improve the welfare and well-being of our farmers and sustainably ramp up food production and supply in the state.
“I am happy with the progress we are making in the implementation of the various projects and initiatives toward achieving our goal of 40 per cent food self sufficiency in the state.
“Some of the flagship projects include the 32-tonnes-per-hour rice mill in Imota which we hope to commission by December this year, the Lagos Agripreneurship Programme, the Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project (APPEALS), the Coconut Value Chain Development project, the Red Meat Value Chain project and the Fish Cage Culture Project among others.”
The state Acting Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, said that agriculture was key to the promotion of food security as it played a vital role in increasing quantity, quality and diversity of food supply.
According to Olusanya, agriculture is a major source of employment for Lagos residents, especially in the rural areas.
The commissioner noted that the overall aim of the agricultural value chain empowerment programme was to provide the necessary agricultural inputs and productive assets to farmers as a means of achieving improved food production and supply.
She added that the programme would deliver optimum economic benefits to farmers and other operators.
“Since inception of this project in 2014, a total of 11,233 farmers, fishermen, butchers, processors and marketers have been empowered.
“The programme is a means of channelling needed support to small holderfarmers who are actively engaged in the various agricultural value chains, thereby creating further wealth and job opportunities.
“It is envisaged that this programme will significantly improve the standard of living of farmers, fishermen, marketers, butchers and agro-processors in the state through the expansion of their food production activities,” she said.
Olusanya implored all the beneficiaries to put their inputs into productive use to make maximum impacts.
She urged the private sector to collaborate with the state government to develop the various agricultural value chains.
Alhaja Nurat Atoba, a representative of the aquaculture value chain, commended the state government for the support, in spite of the situation in the country.
Atoba said the empowerment programme would assist farmers to boost food production.
“We are very happy because this support will put smile on the faces of farmer,” she said.