The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, says the first phase of the largest food logistics hub in West Africa will be inaugurated in 2024 to boost food security in the state.
Mr Sanwo-Olu stated this while addressing journalists at the grand finale of the 2023 World Food Day celebration on Monday at the Nigeria Police College, Ikeja, Lagos.
The governor, accompanied by Abisola Olusanya, the state commissioner for agriculture, Oluwarotimi Fashola, special adviser to the governor on the rice initiative, and members of the state executive council inspected various agricultural produce and products on display.
Farmers from the 20 local governments and 37 local council development areas participated in the fair.
The programme, tagged “Farm Fair, Shop, Eat and Learn,” is to commemorate the 2023 World Food Day with the theme: “Water is Life, Water is Food, Leave No One Behind.”
World Food Day is an annual celebration by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations on Oct. 16 to encourage action on food insecurity.
“Apart from the middle-level markets that we are building, we are constructing the largest food logistics hub in the whole of West Africa.
“You were part of the groundbreaking ceremony which we held last year, and I want to inform you that by this time next year, we should have completed the first phase of the project.
“It is the largest logistics hub in the whole of West Africa. You can take a trip there independently and see for yourself the amount of work that is going on there.
“That logistics food market is supposed to be the central hub where all sorts of food in Lagos will come in. It has cold storage and dry storage, among other features.
“Our plan, if you remember, was initiated two years ago when we launched our five-year plan. It will now take them to the middle-level market. We have built about three of them and are building an additional five.
“The middle-level markets will serve as the bridge between the main hubs and the last mile, which includes the corner show markets and the markets that all of you see in the state,” he said.
The governor said the state had a robust integrated plan that would ensure food sufficiency and food adequacy in Lagos.
He noted that the plan became important because food security globally was becoming an issue.
“We have a robust integrated plan to ensure that food sufficiency and food adequacy in Lagos is secured because food security is becoming a global issue.
“For us as a government, we need to be able to help the market, we need to be able to help the farmers, and we need to help our citizens.
“That’s why I have come here personally to celebrate with them, to celebrate them, and to reassure them that we will not leave them alone.
“We will continue to bring about infrastructure and funding to ensure that this year’s theme, ‘Leave No One Behind,’ is realised,” he said.
The governor encouraged more people to go into rice cultivation to sustain the state’s rice mill in Imota, Ikorodu.
“We are looking for paddy rice growers in Lagos because we have the biggest rice mill and we are also collaborating with other states.
“Our rice mill still needs a lot of paddy. It does not matter the quantity of paddy they grow; we will buy it from them.
“The same goes for other paddy growers in the country, and we need to ensure that food is also affordable and accessible.
“We know that the price of food has gone up, but with interventions like this, which bring the market closer to consumers, I am sure that all the produce brought here today will be picked up and bought,” he said.
Mr Sanwo-Olu said that his administration was committed to encouraging farmers and ensuring that food was affordable and accessible for all.
“I am here this afternoon to give them all the encouragement, to show to the world that Lagos can lead the way in urban farming.
“We do not have a lot of land, but the little land that we have, we are encouraging our farmers to continue to support the needs of the citizens because we know that we need to grow what we eat and eat what we grow.
“We can collaborate with other neighbouring states and other parts of the country to bring all of these products to Lagos because the population is here.
“For me, it is to continue to encourage the Ministry of Agric and all of their officers, extension workers, and project managers to continue to help and support these farmers.
“Especially in aquaculture farming, piggery, fishing, poultry, and all of the other areas in which we can excel.
“It’s another year of celebration to celebrate them, to thank them, and for the media to know that farming is important to us.”
Earlier, Ms Olusanya said farmers and farmers’ groups with exceptional produce would be recognized and awarded prizes at the event.
Ms Olusanya noted that farmers, fishermen, and processors from the entire length and breadth of the state participated in the celebration.
She said that the farmers had put in a lot of work in their different value chains to feed Lagosians and, as the saying goes, “no farmer, no nation.”
Femi Oke, the chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in Lagos and the South-West zone, said insecurity, flooding, and poor funding pose a great danger to food security in the country.
Mr Oke urged the federal and state governments to increase budgetary allocation to the agricultural sector to boost funding for farmers.
He also called for a reduction in interest rates for farmers and agro-processors to lower the prices of food commodities.
“It is not too conducive for a farmer to be paying between 18 to 24 per cent as an interest rate.
“We are looking at how the government can come in with a single-digit interest rate for farmers to reduce the price of commodities in the markets.
“We are seeking government support in this area as we celebrate World Food Day,” he said.