Lagos State government on Sunday flagged-off the 25 emergency neighbourhood food markets for residents of communities essentially to address the problem associated with the lockdown and promote social distancing in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
Nigerian Tribune reports that the markets are places where Lagosians could source for produce such as beverages, vegetables, fish, poultry products, bread and other essential needs at competitive, affordable and farm gate prices.
The State Commissioner for Agriculture, Prince Gbolahan Lawal, disclosed this while speaking with newsmen during an inspection tour to some of the markets at Ikeja Primary School, GRA and Ojota Nursery and Primary School, Ogudu, Lagos.
Lawal noted that that the aim of setting up the neighbourhood food markets was to provide Lagosians access to food supplies during this restrictive period in order to prevent panic buying in line with the state governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s directives closing all markets and stores trading in non-essential commodities.
According to him, the markets were makeshift markets within the neighbourhood for families that do not have the capacity to buy foodstuffs in bulk to have access to a market during the current lockdown in the state.
Lawal explained that the markets, which are the first edition, would enable shoppers buy produce and other everyday needs such as beverages, vegetables, fish, poultry products, bread and other essential needs at competitive, affordable and farm gate prices.
“Today, we are flagging-off the emergency neighbourhood food markets set up by the state government in selected schools to bring markets closer to the people. Essentially, what we are going to see here is how a market is brought closer to the community. We don’t want a situation where people have to travel far in public transportation thereby exposing to the danger of the spread of COVID-19.
“By the time people know there is a neighbourhood market within the area which people can just walk 200 meters to the place, they would be obliged to make use of such a market.
“It is also important to let you know that it is not all Lagosians that have the capacity to bulk purchase produce and store in their homes.
“There are some families that do not have the capacity to bulk purchase because they are daily earners, such people you know because of the lockdown, they are not able to get enough money.
“Those families can come here, buy few things they need like beverages, vegetables, fish, bread, eggs and poultry products during this period. It is a typical grocery store like we have in other developed countries,” he said.
The commissioner explained that the next markets dates were next Wednesday and Saturday this week, urging residents to take advantage of them and buy their food and other agriculture needs from those places.
He explained that both the Ministries of Agriculture and Health have put in place safety guidelines at each of the food and agricultural markets but enjoined shoppers to adhere strictly to safety measures and take the necessary precautionary measures of social distancing while shopping.
The commissioner stressed that there was no need for any panic buying by members of the public, particularly since the makeshift food and agricultural markets had been put in place by the state government to ameliorate peoples’ suffering, adding that officials of the Nigeria Police and Neighbourhood Watch would be on the ground to ensure the maintenance of law and order.
Lawal explained that the chefs of the fast-moving consumer goods had since assured the state government of their readiness to keep supplies flowing unhindered hence there was no need for any panic buying from shoppers.
He, therefore, advised all residents of the state to take individual responsibility during this restrictive period by acting positively so that the chain of COVID-19 transmission could be broken in the state.
Meanwhile, earlier in the day a corporate body, Tropical General Investment (TGI), had made a donation of food items, including 200 bags of rice and 2,500 boxes of cooking oil to the state government as part of its corporate social responsibility towards assisting the needy during the trying period of curbing the spread of coronavirus in the state.
Making the donation to the State Commissioner for Agriculture, Prince Gbolahan Lawal, at Ikeja Primary School, GRA, the head, corporate affairs of the company, Mrs Rafiat Raji, lauded the state government’s initiative at reaching out to 20,000 needy households with foodstuffs to alleviate their sufferings, saying the gesture from the company was in support of government’s efforts, even as she called on other individuals and corporate organisations to come forward with their donations.