The agriculture sector plays a major role in boosting food security globally. But the sector in Nigeria still is yet to achieve self sufficiency in food production. Despite attaining a level of self-sufficiency in some staple foods, food insecurity remains a concern across the country.
However, there is hope as the World Bank has stepped in to help through its Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) project aimed at enhancing the productivity of small and medium-scale farmers and improving value addition along priority value chains.
The bank has earmarked $200 million for the project. Six states -Kano, Kaduna, Lagos, Cross River, Kogi and Enugu – will participate in the project.
Speaking during a farmers’ sensitisation on APPEALS in Lagos, the state Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary, Dr. Olayiwola Onasanya, said Lagos and the World Bank would foster sustainable agriculture and rural development.
Through APPEALS, he said, the World Bank aims to promote decent opportunities for women and youths through exchanges of knowledge and best practices on agriculture, access to markets and management of financial resources.
He said the value chains to be supported by APPEALS in Lagos were aquaculture, poultry and rice.
The number of direct beneficiaries, Onasanya said, is about 10,000 with 50,000 farm households as indirect beneficiaries.
To him, Lagos has the potential to be a powerhouse in agriculture and the government wants to help the sector attain full potential.
Onasanya reiterated that the government was determined to establish Lagos as a hub for agricultural and food innovation.
On rice, he said Lagos was working on a rice mill, with a projected 32 metric tonnes per hour production capacity. The plant will create more than 200,000 jobs and produce 130 million kilograms of rice yearly.
He said the state was determined to promote rice as an agro enterprise venture.
Onasanya reiterated that the state has integrated youth employment into its agriculture and rural development policies, strategies and programmes.
The Permanent Secretary said the state has developed testing capacity for agro exports and local foods, adding that the Ministry of Agriculture is strengthening the capacity of its product department to provide services in support of market access for exporters.
Onasanya said every effort is being made to enable farmers comply with international food testing standards and good agricultural practice techniques.
The State Project CorodinatorAPPEALS, Mrs Oluranti Oviebo said the project relies on strategic alliances with partners to provide better life opportunities for women and youths.
According to her, the project will tackle key constraints of the agriculture sector, such as low productivity, lack of seed funds for establishing agro-processing plants, lack of access to supportive infrastructure, and low level of technology adoption and limited access to markets.
On poultry, she said the project recognises its importance for rural livelihoods and its role in improving food and nutritional security.
She said APPEALS will work with farmers in some areas, including the development of training focused on profitable poultry production.
To meet their needs, she said farmers would be provided extension support, and special efforts made to link poultry producers to distributors for input and offtake.
She said the project is committed to helping inclusive businesses grow and continue to have a positive impact on people living at the base of the economic pyramid.
Lagos State Agricultural Development Authority (LSADA) Programme Manager, Dr Olamilekan Sheteolu-Pereira said the government is committed to empowering small-scale women and youth farmers.
He said the state has been able to crash the price of rice per bag from N24,000 to N14,000, adding that there is a plan to reduce the price to N10,000.
A member of the APPEALS Steering Committee, Mrs. Bosun Solarin said the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry is ready to support the state to promote sustainable livelihood for farmers.
Source: The Nation Nigeria