The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has said the State is committed to optimally harnessing its comparative and competitive advantage in agriculture in order to grow its GDP, support the establishment and growth of small scale industries in all the value chains as well as provide employments for youths and women.
Sanwo-Olu spoke in Lagos on Sunday at the launch of the maiden edition of the Eko-City Farmers’ Market.
He noted that agriculture remains one of the main sectors through which his administration plans to achieve the objective of making Lagos a 21st Century Economy, adding that the main goal in this regard was to ensure food security for the over 22 million people resident in the State.
Represented by his Deputy, Dr. Kadiri Hamzat, the Governor pointed out that the Eko-City Farmers’ Markets was in fulfilment of his campaign promises to farmers in the State and further assured them that the State Government would not relent in implementing more programmes that will be of great benefit to them in particular and the agricultural sector in general.
He said: “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 advantage in agriculture to grow our GDP, 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 described the Eko-City Farmers’ Market as an exceptional initiative aimed at providing a conducive, safe and well structured environment where farmers can trade their farm produce directly to consumers at farm gate prices.
The Governor explained that the Eko-City Farmers’ Market initiative was designed as a monthly market to be hosted on the last Sunday of every month in order to consistently create an inclusive platform that would cater to the diverse needs of people in different social strata as well as ensure food safety and traceability that meets with international market standards.
He stressed that the State Government has begun to effectively tap into the large opportunities and potentials in the agricultural sector, especially as it plans to ensure food security and availability for residents as well as increase its self sufficiency in food production from 18 per cent to 40 per cent by 2025.
He said: “To effectively tap into the large opportunities and potentials in the agricultural sector, there is a 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 and also 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.”
The Governor noted that the Agricultural Produce Market is quite strategic and full of opportunities where over N1 billion worth of transactions take place on a daily basis across the value chains in Lagos, stressing that through the Eko-City Farmers’ Market initiative, the State Government would ensure that all Agricultural Produce Markets are managed in conformity with best global standards and practices, while simultaneously providing a platform for farmers within the State and from the entire South West to display their products and curtail huge post-harvest losses being experienced.
Sanwo-Olu said: “The State Government has launched several intervention programmes through the Ministry of Agriculture to improve Agricultural Produce Markets across the State.
“Some of these programmes include Produce Vehicle and Crate Project for the perishable produce, Eko Meat Van for the Red Meat Value Chain, the three-pronged strategy also under the Red Meat Value Chain, identified with the acronym ATM-Abottoir, Transportation and Market, the annual World Food Day and Sea Food Festivals, to mention but a few.”
Sanwo-Olu further stated that beginning from the May 2020 edition of the Eko-City Farmers’ Market, each of the market days would be dedicated to a South Western state to offer her the opportunity to display those produce/products she is identified with in terms of production, adding that this would further strengthen regional integration between Lagos and other States.
He said the State Government would not relent in its efforts to restructure the agricultural sector as there is a need to uphold Smart-Agriculture driven by innovative technologies by benchmarking on international standards for produce markets befitting of Lagos State.
He therefore urged Lagosions to embrace the Eko City Farmers’ Market initiative as theirs and take due advantage of the opportunity offered to obtain fresh, clean, safe and affordable food produce in a weII-structured, secure, clean and beautiful environment.
Earlier, the State Commissioner for Agriculture, Prince Gbolahan Lawal, explained that studies have shown that farmers in the State lack direct access to the markets of their produce such that more often than not they sell their produce to middlemen at rather ridiculous farm gate prices, while those farmers that are able to penetrate the market find it difficult to break even as they are forced to sell at the association dictated prices.
Lawal pointed out that the dynamics of the Nigerian Agriculture Produce Market is largely structured in a way that the ubiquitous middlemen determine prices across the value chains, thereby turning 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, hence the birth of the Eko-City 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 added.
Lawal noted that the State Government would develop the Eko-City Farmers Market into an International Food Market and Technology Exchange Platform, particularly since Nigerian farm produce is perceived to be more organic than most produce in the western economies, stressing that Nigerian produce is more body friendly than most engineered produce in the world’s top 10 largest economies.
He said: “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 Diaspora.
“The convergence of producers at the Eko City Farmers’ Market would 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.”