LAGOS – Prince Wale Oyekoya, an agriculturist and Chief Executive Officer of Bama Farms Limited, has affirmed that farmers in Lagos State need government assistance just like any other farmers in other states or country in order to avert food crisis and to contribute meaningfully to the food security of the state.
He made the call in an open letter addressed to Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lagos State Governor on post COVID-19 pandemic and effect on food security in the state.
In the letter which was made available to Sunday Independent, Oyekoya said this is not the best time to pay lip service to farmers’ need in the state.
He said that the letter was based on what will happen and solutions to Lagos State citizens after the eradication of the deadly disease in terms of food supply as there is no doubt about it that the pandemic has threatened the food security in the world as indicated by WHO, IMF and World Bank.
“The truth need to be told that Lagos State is not ready to feed the uprising population of 25 million people in the state. There is food crisis in the state already that threatened the food security of the state. There have been so much fraud and deceit with the way farming have been showcased and portrayed by the government as if everything is okay with the food security in the state.
“There has not been so much assistance to the farmers in the state as portrayed in the public domain. I want your administration through your good office to realize that the only way we can get out of poverty is to empower our own people to prosper and build an economy.
“We need to empower people and guide them to become what we want. A system can be put in place to monitor anyone government invest in. Modalities can be set up to make this succeed.
Oyekoya further stated that the Ministry of Agriculture had tried its best based on the availability of porous funds allocated to it but a lot still needed to be done to avert waste, to be prudent in spending and invest in local farmers.
“Some of the ministry previous initiates are the Agric YES at Araga Epe and the prototype of Songhai farms located at Badagry established with billions of naira of tax payers money by the former governor, Babatunde Fashola which turned out to be monumental wastes. Some of these moribund agric projects could be concession to private sectors to manage and report back to the government.
“I will use my farm as an example, Bama Farms Limited established in 2005 with over one hundred acres of land, is an integrated of prototype of Songhai farms in Benin Republic, located at Afero Epe, developed with no government assistance but was forced out of business in 2014 by the Lagos state Government to build Lekki International Airport. Promises and agreements were made and signed by the government and Afero farmers to relocate and compensate us and also to provide us with good enabling environment such as providing us with Certificate of Occupancy, bulldozer to clear the new farmlands and tractors to assist us with weeding, harrowing, planters and harvesters, roads, and other government assistance for smooth operation of our farms.
“Six years later, after allocating over one hundred of acres of farmlands to Bama Farms at Itoikin-Epe road by the former governor, Babatunde Fashola, nothing has happened since then.
“In fact, no Certificate of Occupancy as promised to assess loans from the banks or investors.
“With well over one hundred acres of land and with Lagos state government assistance and intervention, Bama Farms as an integrated farms is guaranteed of contributing meaningfully to the food production in the state, providing training and capacity building to the young farmers, providing of over five hundred direct jobs and improving on the host community social life and welfare.”
He also lamented that the last time Lagos state distributed farming tools, tractors to his farmers was over ten years ago during the administration of Fashola’s first term in office.
“Presently, Lagos state government and the twenty local governments does not have a single bulldozer or tractors to assist the farmers in the state and which adversely affect food production in Lagos state.
“To avert food crisis and with one billion of naira, bulldozers and tractors can be purchase and distribute to Lagos farmers on a subsidized rate to revolutionize and mechanize agriculture in the state,” he said.