Lagos to revive Songhai agricultural youth empowerment scheme

Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Prince Gbolahan Lawal, has said that the state government is poised to complete all abandoned projects in the Agricultural sector particularly the Songhai Model of the Agricultural Youth Empowerment Scheme (Agric Yes) located in Avia-Igborosun in the Badagry Local Government Area of the state.

Lawal disclosed this over the weekend when he led a delegation of the state government officials that included the Special Adviser to the Governor on Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya to inspect the facility, noting that the Songhai Model of the Youth Empowerment Scheme was one of the major empowerment programmes in the agricultural sector for youths being implemented by the state government.

The Songhai Project commenced activities in 2012 with the signing of an MOU with the Songhai Regional Centre but has been abandoned within the last four years.

It has such infrastructure such as poultry pens, piggery pens, concrete fish ponds, greenhouse, dormitories, classrooms, restaurants, staff residence and administration building as well as a biogas plant.

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The commissioner, who recalled that upon assumption of office in July, he commissioned the development of a roadmap with the theme, “A Sustainable Inclusive Growth Strategy with the Citizens at the Core,” added that one of the outcomes of that roadmap was the need to empower no fewer than 15,000 youths and women within the next four years in line with the roadmap.

He further recalled that the Songhai model was a product of a collaboration between the state government and the Songhai Regional Centre, Porto Novo, Benin Republic.

According to him, the programme is geared towards encouraging organic farming and using simple biological methods to enhance production outputs.

“The model is based on new approaches and farming systems that rely heavily on the combined inputs from local experiences, indigenous technology, business communities and research institutions.

“The result is a robust, zero waste, integrated agro-allied model promoting rural growth through training, technology adaptation and strong business and commercialization strategy,” the commissioner stated.

He pointed out that the objectives of the model include the need to train and create employment for youths, thereby “providing improved livelihood for the unemployed youths and reduce Rural-Urban migration of youths as well as to provide food in sufficient quantities to a population that is increasingly demanding in term of quality and diversity- Production that delivers sufficient quantities of safe wholesome food items that assist in disease prevention, healthy living and healthy aging.”

“Some of the objectives of the model are to reduce dependency on other states to supply the food and fibre to be consumed by Lagosians; to complement the productivity of the ageing farmers which could not sustain or move the state to a comfortable level of self-sufficiency in food production and to provide competitive inputs/raw materials for the Agro-Industry,” Lawal averred.

According to him, other objectives include provision of feedstock for renewable energy supply, saying it would be designed “to become an energy source instead of an energy sink and to provide new environmental products and services- carbon sequestration, Agro-Forestry, Biodiversity, native seeds and germ plasma, medical plants, etc.”

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