Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said his government is resolved to optimally harness its comparative and competitive advantage in agriculture in order to grow the state Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Sanwo-Olu made this assertion on Sunday at the launch of the maiden edition of the Eko-City Farmers’ Market, saying the state government was also committed to support the establishment and growth of small scale industries in all the value chains as well as provide employment for the youths and women.
The governor, who noted that agriculture remains one of the main sectors through which his administration plans to achieve the objective of making Lagos a 21st Century Economy, added that the main goal in this regard was to ensure food security for the over 22 million people resident in our state.
He assured the farmers that the state government would not relent in implementing more programmes that would be of great benefit to them in particular and the agricultural sector in general.
“Agriculture remains one of the main sectors through which we plan to achieve our objective to make Lagos a 21st Century Economy. The main goal in this regard is to ensure food security for the over 22 million people resident in our state.
“Also we are committed to optimally harnessing our comparative and competitive advantage in agriculture to grow our GDP, support the establishment and growth of small scale industries in the value chain as well as provide employment for our teeming youths and women,” the governor said.
The governor described the Eko-City Farmers’ Market as an exceptional initiative aimed at providing a conducive, safe and well-structured environment where farmers can trade their farm produce directly to consumers at farm gate prices.
According to him, Eko-City Farmers’ Market initiative was designed as a monthly market to be hosted on the last Sunday of every month in order to consistently create an inclusive platform that would cater to the diverse needs of people in different social strata as well as ensure food safety and traceability that meets with international market standards.
He stressed that the state government had begun to effectively tap into the large opportunities and potentials in the agricultural sector, saying it especially planned to ensure food security and availability for residents as well as increase self-sufficiency in food production from 18% to 40% by 2025.
The governor described the Agricultural Produce Market as quite strategic and full of opportunities where over a billion Naira worth of transactions takes place on a daily basis across the value chains in Lagos.
He stressed that through the Eko- City Farmers’ Market initiative, the state government would ensure that all Agricultural Produce Markets were managed in conformity with best global standards and practices while simultaneously providing a platform for farmers within the state and from the entire South-Western region to display their products and curtail huge post-harvest losses being experienced.
“To effectively tap into the large opportunities and potentials in the agricultural sector, there is a need for food safety and traceability that meets with international market standard.
“Through this initiative, we will ensure that our Agricultural Produce Markets are managed in conformity with best global standards and practices and also provide a platform for our farmers both within the state and from the entire South-Western region to display their products and to also curtail huge post-harvest losses being experienced presently,” Sanwo-Olu opined.
It would be recalled that the state government had launched several intervention programmes through the Ministry of Agriculture to improve Agricultural Produce Markets across the state.
“Some of these programmes include Produce Vehicle and Crate Project for the perishable produce, Eko Meat Van for the Red Meat Value Chain, the three-pronged strategy also under the Red Meat Value Chain identified with the acronym ATM-Abattoir, Transportation and Market, the annual World Food Day and Sea Food Festivals, to mention but a few,” Sanwo-Olu averred.
Speaking further, Governor Sanwo-Olu stated that beginning from the May 2020 edition of the Eko-City Farmers’ Market, each of the market days would be dedicated to a South Western state to offer her the opportunity to display those produce/products she was identified with in terms of production.
According to him, this move will further strengthen regional integration between Lagos and the other South-Western States.
The governor, who vowed that the state government would not relent in its efforts to restructure the agricultural sector as there was a need to uphold Smart-Agriculture driven by innovative technologies by benchmarking on international standards for produce markets befitting of Lagos State, urged Lagosians to embrace the Eko City Farmers’ Market initiative as theirs and take due advantage of the opportunity offered to obtain fresh, clean, safe and affordable food produced in a well-structured, secure, clean and beautiful environment.
Earlier, the State Commissioner for Agriculture, Prince Gbolahan Lawal, explained that studies had shown that farmers in the state lacked direct access to the markets of their produce.
He said this had made them more often than not sell their produce to middlemen at a rather ridiculous farm gate prices while those farmers that were able to penetrate the market found it difficult to break even as they were forced to sell at the association dictated prices.
The commissioner pointed out that the dynamics of the Nigerian Agric Produce Market was largely structured in a way that the ubiquitous middlemen determined prices across the value chains thereby turning the agricultural producers to price takers instead of price fixers.
According to him, it is these challenges that have restricted many of the farmers to subsistence production and indirectly affected the food economy of Lagos State and the entire region hence the birth of the Eko-City Farmers’ Market in the state.
“The Eko-City Farmers’ Market is an inclusive model which epitomizes the ideal transactional nature of the farming industry, which is expected to promote productivity and profitability of farmers,” Lawal said.
Lawal said that the state government would develop the Eko City Farmers Market into an international Food Market and Technology exchange Platform particularly since Nigerian farm produce is perceived to be more organic than most products in the western economies, stressing that Nigerian produce is more body-friendly than most engineered products in the world’s top 10 largest economies.
“Currently, the African food stores in the top largest economies source their produce from different states in the country based on ad hoc arrangements. There are no less than 165 African food stores in the US, 30 in Canada, 60 in the UK and 35 in Australia serving 15 million Nigerians in Diaspora.
“The convergence of producers at the Eko City Farmers’ Market would give the Diaspora food merchants the opportunity to select high-quality products from one platform thereby reducing paperwork, stress, and multiple payment contracts.
“Lagos State has the potential to become the agribusiness hub for the region, connecting the Diaspora food markets,” Lawal opined.
Speaking further, the commissioner explained that another notable feature of market activities at the Eko City Farmers’ Market was the launch and use of the reusable shopping bags, stressing that as the world grows more eco-friendly, the use of reusable shopping bags had become a trend.
“A growing movement around the country is for the use of reusable bags by consumers to carry their products home. Some benefits of the reusable bags are the fact they conserve resources, decrease pollution, avoid recycling problems, protect wildlife, de-clutter the house and save space,” he said.
Kwara State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mrs Harriert Afolabi-Oshatimehin, who also spoke, commended the Lagos State government for the Eko City Farmers’ Market Initiative and promised to collaborate with the state on the noble venture.
“We look forward to strengthening bilateral trade to maximize the output of our agricultural produce. We also look forward to participating in this market and our farmers will be eager to share and display their produce. The good people and government of Kwara State are ready to further collaborate for the promotion of national integration,” Mrs Afolabi-Oshatimehin said.