Sanwo-Olu unveils 5-yr food sufficiency road map for Lagos

• urges S/West states to collaborate with Lagos

Lagos State governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Thursday unveiled a 5-year food security road map that will see a sustained public and private sectors’ investment in agricultural value chains to give Lagos comparative advantages in the sector and enhance the state’s self-sufficiency in food production from the current 18 per cent up to 40 per cent over the next 60 months.

Governor Sanwo-Olu rolled out the Agric road map which would be achieved through a three-pronged approach and enhance food sufficiency in Lagos State at a ceremony organised by the Ministry of Agriculture at the Intercontinental Hotels, Victoria Island.

The governor said the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on food security in Lagos necessitated immediate action towards ensuring food security for residents of the state.

Lagos, the smallest state in the country in terms of land size, relies on massive food importation and mutual collaboration on production with other states to ensure food sustenance for its 22 million population.

The governor, while saying the state could no longer rely exclusively on production alliances with other states, stressed that it was time for Lagos to unlock its agricultural potential by implementing the 5-years road map.

According to him, the plan will set players in the agricultural sector on the path of wealth generation and value creation, saying such would go a long way in improving food security and industrialisation of the agricultural sector, while also entrenching inclusive socio-economic growth.

“At the inception of this administration, we identified food security as a major policy thrust and a key component of our T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda. The five-year Agricultural and Food Systems Road Map has been designed in line with our agenda to reform, transform and maximise the potential of Lagos agricultural sector.

“The focus of the road map is in the development of agricultural value chains where Lagos has competitive and comparative advantages to enhance self-sufficiency in food production from 18 per cent to 40 per cent over the next five years, and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“To successfully implement the road map, we will take a cue from other economies that have achieved self-sufficiency in food production. We will also aim to put the private sector at the heart of our vision for food security in Lagos State, with government as enabler and catalyst,” the governor stated.

Governor Sanwo-Olu said the strategies to achieve the plan will focus on leveraging technology to grow agric’s upstream sector through interventions capable of lowering the cost of production in identified value chains, including fisheries, poultry, piggery, rice, vegetables, and coconut.

He said there would be deliberate actions to grow the mid-stream and downstream sectors to enhance the value chain in processing, handling, storage, cold chain, packaging, utilisation, and commercialization.

He further said that the state government would link willing private sector players to business-friendly credit facilities and give incentives to improve private participation, while also formulating enabling policies to encourage return on investment.

“The projection is that the total investment in the agricultural sector from the Government, private sector, donor agencies, and development partners will run into over $10 billion in the next five years. While we expect most of the investment to be private sector-driven, the government will continue to provide the needed infrastructure while the private sector will be encouraged to lead the key projects.

“We are revamping the Agricultural Land Holding Authority (ALHA) to drive investment into agriculture. We will strengthen the coconut belt with increased private sector involvement. The next five years will be productive, competitive, and transformational as Lagos implements this road map, which will make the State become the nation’s agricultural powerhouse. I invite you to join us to make history,” the governor said.

Speaking further, Governor Sanwo-Olu disclosed that Lagos had entered into a partnership agreement with two key states in the North Central for land availability, urging states in the South-West to key into the objectives due to their proximity.

Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya, in her remark, said the development of the road map started with stakeholder’s engagements and workshops around addressing the needs of the agric ecosystem in the state.

The commissioner pointed out that the blueprint provided a market-centric context pertaining to each value chain in the Lagos food ecosystem, noting that there was a great wealth to be mined from agriculture if data-driven principles were applied and the right information was made available to the investors.

“There is a great wealth to be mined from the oldest profession on earth (agriculture) if data-driven principles are applied and the right information is made available to the investors.

“I dream of a Lagos where wholesome food is available, where healthy people thrive, where re-organized food system reduces freight congestion, post-harvest losses and increases profits for value chain actors. A Lagos where agriculture will empower millions of people and drive up productivity,” Olusanya said.

Chairman of Chapel Hill Denham Group, Mr Wale Edun, analysed the agricultural road map which he described as laudable, saying the state government deserved to be supported on the vision.

He further described the rollout of the initiative as timely, given the festering insecurity in some parts of the country, which, he said, posed a great risk to the Lagos food market due to the attendant disruption in the supply chain.

Edun, a former Commissioner for Finance in Lagos, however, urged the government to limit the scope of its investment to infrastructure and the environment, saying the private sector must be allowed to play a frontline role in the implementation of the road map.

Commissioner for Finance, Dr Rabiu Olowo, said the programme would increase the contribution of agriculture to Lagos GDP from two to five per cent, adding that the roadmap would close the gap of wealth inequality.

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