Food Security: LASG involves 1m youths in agriculture

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By Olayinka Olawale,

Lagos, a cosmopolitan, commercial capital of Nigeria and with a population of over 20 million, although, not agrarian state, is putting in all efforts to invigorate agriculture practice with a view to ensuring food sufficiency.

To this end, the state government has concluded plans to create one million youth farmers in the agricultural space by 2023.

According to government sources, the project is to make the five-year agricultural master plan for Lagos, a youth inclusive programme.

Hopefully, between 2022 and 2023, the state should be having well over a million youth farmers in the agriculture space,’’ Ms Abisola Olusanya, the state Commissioner for Agriculture says.

Highlighting details of the youth agriculture programme, Olusanya said that the Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration is forward-looking on youths’ engagements.

In the Agriculture space, she said “it’s not necessarily about those who will be going to the farm to kick up using mechanised tools or implement.

“It’s also about those who will be in the digital space in agriculture; those who will be in the crowdfunding space; those who will be in the data integration; data collection phases and also be in packaging, processing and others.’’.

The commissioner further said that the Imota rice mill projects will kick off in 2021.

The 32 metric tonnes per hour rice mill is also aimed at further enhancing employment generation in the state.

The commissioner explained that the construction of the mill was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, she said that the state government had trained about 800 rice farmers drawn from Badagry, Itokin, Ikorodu, Epe, Gboyinbo, Idena, Obada, Ito Ikin and Ise on rice production with global best practice.

“If the new techniques, to which the rice farmers have been exposed, are adopted in the next planting season, it will result in increased paddy production in the state.

She added that the training will also expose the farmers to efficient harvesting methods by using up-to-date agricultural practices to ensure maximum output, improved yield, as well as the highest return on investment.

It is, therefore, envisaged that the mill will have enough paddy to ensure its smooth take-off.

“The mill has the capacity to produce 115,200 metric tonnes of milled rice, which will require about 280,000 metric tonnes of paddy per year,’’ Olusanya said.

The commissioner also reiterated the state government’s readiness to support any youth, who wants to come into the agriculture space.

She said that the ‘Lagos Aquaculture Centre for Excellence’ project would come on stream.

All these projects, she said, are being executed in conjunction with the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund.

“One million jobs are even too small for us to create, we will hopefully create more and that is what Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu is looking forward to in showing the people of the state that it is not just agriculture, it is agribusiness,’’ Olusanya said.

“The capacity building training is to give all participants the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in modern and improved rice farming techniques.

“The farmers were empowered with tools and farrow 44 seeds, knapsack sprayers, rain boots and farm coats to make Lagos, a rice-producing state by 2021.

“This is with the aim to boost food security and self-sufficient to 40 per cent.’’

The idea behind the policy, according to the commissioner, is to transform Lagos from rice consuming to a rice-producing state.

On their part, the rice farmers were also enthusiastic to contribute their quota to the food security efforts the state.

Commenting on the state government efforts toward boosting agriculture, particularly rice production,

Mr Segun Atho, Deputy National President, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) gave Kudo to the government for “making Lagos rice producing state and not a consuming state’’.

To ensure the success of its projects in the outgone year, the state government raised a team to inspect the 550 hectares of rice farm under the Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) Project in Badagry.

The team also inspected Blessed Farm, Gayingbo, 250-hectares of Ofada rice farm and Gberefun Rice Production Cluster Farm, a 300-hectares rice farm in Badagry.

Equipment such as fertilisers, mechanised trans-planter, harvester, agro-chemicals, motorised sprayer, Ripper, fertiliser applicator, thresher and plough earlier procured for the successful operational take-off of the project were also inspected to ensure they are in perfect condition.

It is envisaged that with all these efforts, Lagos State is on the path rising to become a rice-producing state, ready to sufficiently feed its population. (NANFeatures)

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