Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State on Sunday said that the state was committed to optimally harness its comparative and competitive advantages in agriculture.
He said this was to grow the state’s GDP and ensure food security for its residents.
Sanwo-Olu said this at the inauguration of the maiden edition of the Eko-City Farmers’ Market at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos.
The governor, represented by his deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, said that the state would support the establishment and growth of small scale industries in all the value chains as well as provide employments for the youth and women.
He added that the main goal was to ensure food security for the over 22 million residents in Lagos State.
The governor said that the Eko-City Farmers’ Market initiative was in fulfillment of his campaign promises to farmers in the state.
He assured them that the state government would not relent in implementing more programmes that would be of great benefit to them in particular and the agricultural sector in general.
“Agriculture remains one of the main sectors through which we plan to achieve our objective to make Lagos a 21st Century Economy; the main goal in this regard is to ensure food security for the over 22 million people resident in our state.
“Also, we are committed to optimally harnessing our comparative and competitive advantages in agriculture to grow our GDP.
“We will also support the establishment and growth of small scale industries in the value chain as well as provide employment for our teeming youths and women,” Sanwo-Olu said.
He described the Eko-City Farmers’ Market as an exceptional initiative aimed at providing a conducive, safe and well structured environment where farmers could trade their farm produce directly to consumers at farm gate prices.
The governor explained that the initiative was designed as a monthly market to be hosted on the last Sunday of every month to cater for the diverse needs of the people in different social strata.
He said it would also ensure food safety and traceability that meets international market standards.
He said that the state government had begun to effectively tap into the large opportunities and potential in the agricultural sector, especially, as it plans to ensure food security and availability for its residents.
Sanwo-Olu said that the state would also increase its self sufficiency in food production from 18 per cent to 40 per cent by 2025.
“To effectively tap into the large opportunities and potential in the agricultural sector, there is the need for food safety and traceability that meets with international market standard.
“Through this initiative, we will ensure that our agricultural produce markets are managed in conformity with best global standards and practices.
“It also will provide a platform for our farmers both within the state and from the entire South-Western region to display their products and to also curtail huge post-harvest losses being experienced presently,” he said.
The governor noted that the agricultural produce market was quite strategic and full of opportunities where over a billion naira worth of transactions take place on a daily basis across the value chains in Lagos.
The governor said from May 2020 edition of the farmers’ market, each of the market days would be dedicated to a South Western state to offer them the opportunity to display those produce/products they are identified with in terms of production.
He added that this would further strengthen regional integration between Lagos and other South-Western States.
He said that the state government would not relent in its efforts aimed at restructuring the agricultural sector.
He said this would help to uphold smart-agriculture driven by innovative technologies by benchmarking on international standards for produce markets befitting the state.
He, therefore, urged Lagosions to embrace the Eko City Farmers’ Market initiative.
He added that they should take due advantage of the market to obtain fresh, clean, safe and affordable food produce in a weII-structured, secure, clean and beautiful environment.
Earlier, the State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Gbolahan Lawal, said that studies had shown that farmers in the state lacked direct access to market their produce.
He said that more often than not, the farmers used to sell their produce to middlemen at rather ridiculous farm gate prices.
Lawal said farmers who were able to penetrate the market found it difficult to break even as they were forced to sell at the association’s dictated prices.
He pointed out that the dynamics of the Nigerian agric produce market was largely structured in a way that the ubiquitous middlemen determine prices across the value chains.
He said this had turned the agricultural producers to price takers instead of price fixers.
According to him, it is these challenges that have restricted many of the farmers to subsistence production and indirectly affected the food economy of Lagos State and the entire region.
He said this had given birth to the farmers’ market in the state.
“The Eko-City Farmers’ Market is an inclusive model which epitomises the ideal transactional nature of the farming industry, which is expected to promote productivity and profitability of farmers,” the commissioner said.
Lawal noted that the state government would develop the farmers’ market into an international Food Market and Technology exchange platform.
He said this was because the country’s farm produce had been perceived to be more organic than most produce in the western economies.
He said that Nigerian produce was more body friendly than most engineered produce in the world’s top 10 largest economies.
“Currently, the African food stores in the top largest economies source their produce from different states in the country based on ad hoc arrangements.
“There are no less than 165 African food stores in the US, 30 in Canada, 60 in the UK and 35 in Australia, serving 15 million Nigerians in the Diaspora.
“The convergence of producers at the Eko City Farmers’ Market will give the Diaspora food merchants the opportunity to select high quality produce from one platform thereby reducing paperwork, stress, and multiple payment contracts.
“Lagos State has the potential to become the agribusiness hub for the region, connecting the Diaspora food markets,” he said.
The commissioner explained that another notable feature of market activities at the Eko City Farmers’ Market was the launch and use of the reusable shopping bags.
He said that the world was becoming more eco-friendly, the use of reusable shopping bags had become a trend.
In her remark, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Kwara State, Mrs Harriet Afolabi-Oshatimehin, commended the Lagos State Government on the Eko City Farmers’ Market initiative.
Afolabi-Oshatimehin described the farmers’ market as a laudable initiative that must be sustained and emulated by other governments across the federation.
“I received with gladness your offer of collaboration on this noble venture and I must confess that I am honoured.
“The good people and government of Kwara State are ready to further collaborate in the promotion of national integration.
“We look forward to strengthening bilateral trade to maximise the output of this agricultural produce.
We also look forward to participating in this market and our farmers will be eager to share and display their produce.
“For these improvements to be made real, all hands must be on deck,” she said.