Nigeria will attain sustainable development if there is security of food and serious agricultural development. However, for this to be realised, Lagos State must continue on the path of sustainable food production and agricultural revival.
Prior to the recent bold collaboration with Kebbi State that brought delight to many homes during the Yuletide and New Year through the sale of “Lake Rice”, the state was producing only 15 per cent of what its people consumed, spending N350 billion on rice importation, half of the bill on the commodity by Nigeria.
Daily, 6,000 cows are slaughtered at over N3 million, translating to N1, 080,000,000 yearly. Even with its huge population and the high purchasing power of residents, Lagos, with only 350 hectares of cultivable lands, had 53 hectares under cultivation.
Because of the strategic position of Lagos in Nigeria, one would think Lagos would receive the biggest impact of Nigeria’s socio-economic dislocation. But the state is God has been blessed with visionary and competent leaders.
Ambode swims against the tide of potential crisis to produce outstanding accomplishments, which have kept Lagos in the forefront of socio-economic and political development.
Yet, Lagos must produce spectacular results in all sectors, especially in food safety and adequacy and agricultural security. At this period of recession, the first in 20 years in Nigeria, we need leaders who are willing, able and eager to rescue the country, bring us out of recession and restore our glory. Ambode is a shining example of such leaders.
Through uncommon policies, Ambode has been charting a new path towards achieving self-sufficiency in the food and agricultural sector, complemented by businesses and industrial strategies.
He created the Office of the Special Adviser on Food Security to, among other things, tackle food insufficiency, provide employment, stimulate relevant business and industrial value chains and fuel accelerated socio-economic growth and development.
Ambode also seeks to inspire healthy competition and expand mutually rewarding agro-economy collaborations, not only in the states of the Western Region, but in all other states in the country. The Governor believes that when food is adequate, harmonious relationship and peaceful co-existence will reign.
Ambode’s efforts in developing the agricultural sector can be seen in the proverb that says “don’t give me fish but teach me how to fish”.
The empowerment of our people, particularly the youth, women and unemployed through partnership and networking with relevant stakeholders within the state are germane in Ambode’s creative policies. In the next 2 years, Lagos is poised to scale up food sufficiency from the present 12 per cent to 25 per cent.
For rice sufficiency in Lagos and for prosperity to her and other collaborating states, Ambode targets all arable lands in Nigeria. “Lake Rice” initiative is a fine example of strategic collaboration, where comparative advantages of partners are combined to produce impressive yield.
During the Yuletide period, Lagos sold 32,467 bags of 50kg, 32,539 bags of 25kg and 30,780 bags of 10kg “Lake Rice”, produced and bagged by both states.
Comparative advantage to maximise production is important in the agrarian policy. In alliance with Lagos, Kebbi State brings to the table 600 hectares of arable land, as Ogun State, in Eguaa provides 500 hectares. In the same manner, the state has stepped up rice promotion drive, acquiring lands in other states for cultivation, especially in the South West.
The governor is determined to reach the maximum limit possible for rice cultivation in Lagos as well. He expanded the Imota Rice Mill to have the capacity of 16 metric tons from 2.5 metric tons; a total of 100 farmers, mostly youths, are engaged in rice production in Epe under FADAMA III project; and in Avia, Badagry, under Agric-YES, every year over 100 youths were trained for six months and practised for six months.
At the end of their training, they were given loan facility, resources and technical support. Still under Agric-YES in Badagry area, he is fusing socio-cultural realities of the region with agricultural opportunities to maximise gains, by strengthening people’s bond with their lands, building alliances with the people of Soghai, Republic of Benin, promoting entrepreneurship and other economic value chains and encouraging friendship of the people in Badagry and in Benin Republic.
Coconut has more than 300 derivatives, and in the past, coconut was a major export earner of the State, hence the Coconut Initiative is an area where Lagos still has massive comparative advantage.
The Governor is poised to revive and scale up the coconut projects across all the value chains, as 180km stretch of coconut groves are available for planting of 30,000 seedlings, as 3 community-based micro-processing centres have been installed. This move will not only stimulate coconut industry (like in the Philippines where coconut earnings and coconut products can be compared to our receipts from petroleum) but will also improve coastal environment of the region.
Ambode’s agrarian revolution is far-reaching, involving the entire food and agric-business spectrum. Under the Agric-YES, over 500 youths have been trained in poultry and fish farming. From the first quarter of the year, over 1,500 crates of eggs are being harvested every day, 2, 000 broilers hatched per month and 18 tons of fresh fish harvested per cycle; the Entrepreneurship Centre Initiative provides continuous advisory services to farmers through seasoned representatives in all technical areas of agriculture; there is Estate initiative; there is Commercial Agricultural Development Project (CAPD) initiative – 315 women were trained, 51 of whom were empowered in poultry, rice and aquatic value chain; Agric-Input Supply Initiative and Rural Finance Institution Project (Rufin)-aimed at strengthening the capacity of farmers while increasing access of poor rural farmers to financial services – Agric Programme (SAP) and Cage Culture System. There is Oyo Cattle Fattening partnership in Ejio to address the beef needs of Lagosians.
Nigeria was once one of the few nations considered as giants in agriculture, in the pre-Independence era and two decades after.
A nation blessed with clement weather, fantastic river systems and an extensive coast line, our Nigeria was one of the best for habitation. In those periods, foods, vegetables and fruits – fresh from the farms – were affordable.
From 1960 to 1970, agriculture sustained the Nigerian economy as the main foreign exchange earner, contributing about 76 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The country was the largest producer and exporter of palm oil and groundnuts.
With the ability to export 47 per cent of her products, Nigeria contributed 18 per cent to the world’s total exports and remained a major force to reckon with in such other cash crops as rubber, cotton, citrus and peanuts.