Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has said the state government is in the process of acquiring an estimated 32,000 hectares of farmland for rice cultivation in seven states.
Sanwo-Olu made the disclosure on Wednesday at the 2019 Grand Finale of the World Food Day celebration in Lagos.
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The theme for 2019 celebration was: “Our Actions Our Future: Healthy Diets for a Zero Hunger World”.
The governor listed the states apart from Lagos as Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Ondo and Kebbi.
He said a key component in the food security programme of the state government was the 32 metric tons per hour capacity Integrated Rice Mill in Imota.
According to him, this is expected to be completed and inaugurated in the next seven months.
Sanwo-Olu, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Folasade Jaji, said that when completed, the mill would ensure sustainable supply of wholesome rice at an affordable price to the populace in Lagos.
He said that it would also help to reduce rice importation into the Nigerian economy.
The governor said that theme speaks of the need for a collective action toward, not only increasing food production, but also ensuring that adequate attention was paid to quality food being consumed.
He said the theme aptly highlighted the state government’s efforts through the food security initiative and commitment to prevent the consumption of unwholesome food.
“Today, we are happy to join the rest of the World in celebrating the World Food Day.
“This annual celebration being spearheaded by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, is about raising awareness on issues related to food.
“These include: poverty and hunger and to highlight efforts being made by governments, institutions, organisations and individuals to mitigate the negative effects on people,” the governor said.
Sanwo-Olu said that the only way to effectively fight poverty and hunger in the country was to boost agricultural production and prevent post-harvest losses and wastage.
He said the state was one of the participating states in the World Bank Assisted APPEALS Project aimed at enhancing agricultural productivity of small and medium scale farmers, and improve value addition along priority value chains.
Sanwo-Olu said the selected value chains for the state which align with its comparative advantage in agriculture were poultry, rice and aquaculture.
He added the project was also collaborating with Africa Rice for the development of Pure Ofada Rice Strain, capacity building for seed out growers and rice-based products.
The governor said that no fewer than 35 farmers and State Officers had been trained, while the institute was expected to supply 200kg of foundation Ofada Seed by February 2020 for cultivation.
Earlier, Gbolahan Lawal, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, said the state government had instituted and encouraged the cultivation of crops under the irrigation farming and the use of Greenhouses.
Lawal said that this was to overcome the various challenges posed by the change in climatic conditions as a result of the global warming.
He said that climate change had equally greatly affected the growth and multiplication of fish in the water bodies.
“In a bid to address this issue, the state government has embarked on some innovations such as the Cage and Pen Culture where fish are cultivated in nets in the deep sea as a way of synthesising a natural habitat for them.
“A prototype of this Cage and Pen Culture is presently being set up at Agbowa,’’ the commissioner said.
Also, Mr Fatai Afolabi, Technical Committee member, British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation, said that in the second quarter of 2019, GDP from agriculture increased from N3.5 million in quarter one to over N3.8 million.
Afolabi said the sector would contribute more if the farm produce could get to the consumers at the required time.
“We all appreciate that no matter how fantastic a product is, if it does not get to its end users at the appropriate time, that product will rot away in storage.
“This reason is what propel us to collaborate with the Lagos State Government and our other sponsors to organise the Lagos Farm Fair so that we can help close the huge gap between farmers and their market,” he said.