LAGOS – Determined to provide foods to meet the needs of Lagosians, the All Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Lagos State chapter, has appealed to the state government to urgently provide them with farming equipment such as bulldozers and tractors and good seedlings to make farming easy for them.
Dr. Femi Oke, State Chairman of AFAN made the appeal during an inspection tour of the AFAN Rice Farm in Itoikin said: “We are using this medium to appeal to the Governor to provide us with bulldozer and tractors to make the job of providing food for all Lagosians an easy one.”
Affirming that the government alone cannot shoulder the responsibility of providing food for the people, he called on Non-Governmental organisations (NGOs) and private bodies, as well as corporate organisations to partner AFAN in food production.
He noted that the Itoikin Rice Farm is a private initiative of AFAN to key into the ongoing rice revolution in Nigeria through the Lagos AFAN mechanised farming, adding that if the government provides them with tractors, they will do mechanised farming instead of manual labour, which gives less output.
According to Oke, “We want the government to urgently assist AFAN with the provision of tractors. This will help the farmers to easily plant rice in large quantities. When we use manual labour, we put in much effort and get less output. But when we go mechanized it will result in plenty yield in terms of output.”
While commending the Lagos State government for establishing the Imota Rice Mill, Oke called on more people to come into rice production, as according to him, rice farming is a very good business that no stakeholder will regret investing his or her money in.
Lamenting the difficulty that AFAN is faces in accessing available labour, Oke noted that “Labour is not too easy and cheap to get, we are thinking about doing mechanised farming by getting tractors and bulldozers to open the land. We want the government to come to our aid in this area. We want a bulldozer to be under our care, even if it is on public-private partnership (PPP), we don’t mind.
“Most of the equipment we use on our rice farms are rented or bought from the collective contributions. It is not easy.
Shakin Agbayewa, State Deputy Chairman, AFAN, at the tour noted that the with the border closure, which resulted in the ban on foreign rice, there was the urgent need to fill the existing need of rice gap for the citizens and that AFAN had to key into the rice revolution because the country needs to be self-reliant when it comes to rice.
Agbayewa noted that with the border closure “What the government was trying to do was to localise rice production. So, we had to key into it. Keying into rice production is an economic boost for local farmers, apart from other challenges we have such as the finance, the haulage, the logistics, printers sacs, distributors, marketers, among other. It is a huge investment; we want people to know that local rice production is working and lucrative.”
Abimbola Fagoyinbo- Francis, General Secretary, AFAN, Lagos State chapter, in her own submission, urged the government at all levels to as a matter of urgency, assist farmers, especially the females among them, with grants to aid in the ensuring better harvests.
“Female farmers need government’s assistance. We call for government’s intervention in the areas of providing funds, grants, among other measures to make farming easy and interesting,” she said.
Adeyemi Godsfeather, a Consultant to AFAN, urged everyone to engage in subsistent farming.
He said that if everyone becomes a stakeholder in agriculture, the nation can trade and have sufficient food for the people.
He listed challenges facing farmers as bad roads, corrupt officials, finance, among others.
He called for tractorisation and mechanisation of rice farming, saying: “if you do your work manually, you spend more on labour, but if you mechanise, you spend less on labour and that will give you more results and better productivity. Land clearing is made easy with bulldozers,” he said.