The Lagos, Niger, and Kwara state Governments have initiated a partnership aimed at boosting food production and reducing waste during the transportation of food items from farmlands to the markets.
The first stage of the discussion, which took place at the office of the Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture in Alausa, also deliberated on ensuring food security and introducing mechanized farming in the country.
The discussion comes as President Bola Tinubu summoned an emergency meeting on food security upon his return to the country after a two-week private visit to France.
In her opening remarks at the meeting, the Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya, said the forum was to formalize collaboration among states of the federation to guarantee food security, translating into better lives for the people.
She stated that the partnership was also aimed at minimizing waste during the movement of food crops and other perishable items from cultivation states to consumption places, including Lagos.
According to her, there is a need to restore the value chains of food distribution to wholesalers with minimal financial backing from the government where necessary, for easy purchase in large quantities for retail sales.
Making reference to the Executive Order issued by President Bola Tinubu on food security, the commissioner noted that it was a step in the right direction to stem inflation and engage the youths in production lines.
Olusanya explained that the directive by the President, calling for 500,000 hectares of land to be cultivated among states of the federation to bridge food shortages in the country, is realistic.
She noted that over the years, the production capacities of states in the sector had dwindled, but deliberate efforts are being made to change the narrative.
The Lagos commissioner for Agriculture said the state is primarily urban and hosts about eleven percent of the total population of the country, despite being the smallest in size.
“We intend to serve all other states of the federation and the West African sub-region. Work is in progress in this regard since the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwoolu unveiled a roadmap in 2021 to meet the food needs of the people of the state. The idea around the Food Hub in Mushin is akin to what is obtainable in Paris, Kiev, Brazil, China, translating into millions of Euros, and we are trying to replicate it,” she added.
Olusanya disclosed that Lagos recognizes the value of Kwara and Niger states in terms of food production, while the state is well-positioned to buy over for mutual benefits.
According to her, whatever happens to Lagos will have a spiral effect on other states of the federation, adding that food items including rice, tomatoes, cattle, cassava, maize, and livestock are expected from Kwara state.
Speaking further, Olusanya disclosed that the launching of the first Food Hub in Mushin, which is to be replicated across the state, was to cater directly to the food needs of the locals at affordable prices.
She declared the government’s intention to come up with statistics in the long run to determine prices as well as demands and supply at different times. Terminal Food stores to be located in communities across the state.
Abisola Olusanya said Lagos’ population keeps growing, leaving food transactions yearly now at 7 trillion, adding that the three states will later sign an MOU to seal the partnership.
The Lagos commissioner noted that talks are already ongoing between Origin and the Federal government to realize 500,000 hectares of land cultivation in line with the Presidential Executive Order.
For the Kwara state commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mrs. Oloruntoyosi Olufunmilayo Thomas, she said she was excited about the collaboration, adding that the state is ready to provide quality food on demand to improve the quality of lives of consumers.
She explained that the collaboration is all about bridging the gap, empowering the farmers, and ultimately ensuring food security.
Oloruntoyosi Thomas disclosed that the state will first feed its people, then Lagos, and the entire nation in that order.
On his part, the Niger State Commissioner for Industry, Trade, Investment, and Private Sector Development, Aminu Suleiman Takuma, expressed hope that the dream of collaboration would not end on the table but be translated into reality.
He said that the initiative will make Agricultural transformation of Niger work, adding that the state Governor has started with 600 hectares of land and distribution of fertilizers to farmers.
On a lighter note, Aminu Takuma said that whatever you throw on land in Niger grows. It is a good start and hoping to work for all the states.
He was of the view that if the MOU works between Lagos, Kwara, and Niger states, others will want to follow.
Aminu Takuma said the state Government recently engaged the AFDB towards boosting Agriculture in the state.
The Technical Superintendent of CAMPO, a Brazilian company created in 1978 that offers expertise in Agriculture, Cezar Augusto Rizzi, said they are ready to assist Lagos and Nigeria in the areas of food production and security.
He insists that there are huge economic potentials for Agriculture in the country, adding that the Savannah zone in Brazil is very similar to Nigeria.
Cezar Rizzi noted that the company is working in Kenya, Gambia, and Mozambique, which possess similar environmental conditions like Nigeria.
The Agric expert explained that Brazil has potentials for huge food expansion, and after 40 years, the country changed the narrative from importing food to becoming one of the major exporters in the world.
He said that the country has become the third-largest exporter of Agricultural products in the world.
Brazil, in his presentation, occupied the position of a consuming nation in 1973, but a year later began restructuring of basic science and Technology that assisted in livestock farming.