The Lagos State Government on Wednesday restated its commitment to mechanised agriculture to ensure food security in the state.
The state’s Acting Commissioner for Agriculture, Abisola Olusanya, said this during an inspection of 550 hectares of rice farm under the Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) Project in Badagry
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Olusanya was accompanied by the Coordinator of APPEALS, Mrs Oluranti Sagoe-Oviebo and Dr Olayiwole Onasanya, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture.
NAN reports that the team visited Blessed Farm, Gayingbo, a 250-hectares of Ofada rice farm and Gberefun Rice Production Cluster Farm, a 300-hectares rice farm, both in Badagry.
Other farms visited were Ashdod Commercial Fish Farmers Cooperative Agricultural Multipurpose, Adowo and Wheviyon Fish Farm Cooperative Agricultural Multipurpose Society, an Earthen pond in Torikoh, Badagry.
Olusanya also inspected rice and aquaculture value chain equipment provided such as fertilisers, mechanised transplanter, harvester, agro-chemicals, motorised sprayer, Ripper, ferteliser applicator, thresher, plough as well as fish and feeds for aquaculture provided for farmers by the state.
The acting commissioner expressed satisfaction with the farms visited and assured that the World Bank, Federal and Lagos state government would continue to support the farmers to ensure food security in the state.
According to her, agriculture of the future is not about hoes and cutlasses, but about tractorisation and mechanisation as well as other inputs that will make life easier for farmers.
“The ministry of agriculture has also carried out training for rice farmers just to ensure that upon completion of the Imota rice mill, we will have access to paddy from Badagry and other locations in the state.
“We want to ensure that the rice we are consuming in our state is actually planted in Lagos,” she said.
The acting commissioner urged the participants not to see themselves as ordinary farmers but as businessmen and women operating in the agric sector.
”We want you to start thinking of startegy to improve your production level, food supply and pricing,” the acting commissioner said.
Olusanya noted that part of the agenda of APPEALS was to enhance productivity, improve livelihoods and support women and youths.
“I am very happy that majority of the farmers here are youths and women. Everything is in line with what we want to achieve.
“I want to assure you that the ministry of agriculture is fully behind you, fully in support of you and we’re working on everything you are asking for around tractorisation, even up to swamp buggy,” Olusanya said.
Mrs Oluranti Sagoe-Oviebo, State Project Coordinator, Lagos APPEALS, said that the project had supported five cluster groups in rice production; each cluster consisted of 10 members.
She said the APPEALS project was set up to address challenges confronting farmers in the three value chains of rice, poultry and aquaculture.
She said the farmers in Gayingbo were trained in Ibadan on rice farming techniques and the outcome was implemented by the beneficiaries.
Sagoe-Oviebo said the project supported the farming cluster groups with rice seeds, fertilisers, mechanised transplanter, harvester, agro-chemicals, motorised sprayer, Ripper, ferteliser applicator, Thresher, plough, as well as finance for mechanised farming and alliance.
She said the project had also supported rice off taker with a colour sorter machine, the first of its kind in Lagos to help in sorting the rice.
“Our target is to take Lagos rice out of Nigeria and not just within Nigeria.
“We have already selected a pure strain of Ofada rice that will give us shining grain and we are going to use the colour sorter to give us premium rice at the end of the day.
”We will support our farmers from production to processing and marketing. Some farmers are presently undertaking training with NAFDAC and other food organisation on how to obtain certification for premium quality rice.
“We will do whatever we can to make life easier for our farmers,” she said.
Mr Samuel Obitunde, Head of Gayingbo cluster group, commended the APPEALS project for its numerous support to the farmers.
“In the whole of Lagos State, you cannot talk about rice without mentioning Gayingbo as a stakeholder.
“We thank the Lagos State government both past and present have really demonstrated their passion for rice cultivation in the state.
“APPEALS project has supported us with 600 bags of fertilisers for 100-hectares of land, five tons of viable Ofada rice seeds, 1,000 liters of agro-chemicals, three Threshers and fertiliser applicator and many more.
“We want to assure the government that we will support the Imota rice mill project whenever it commences operations.
“We urge the government to provide tractor and swamp buggy machine and roads to open-up more farmlands,” he said.
Also, Mr Segun Atho, Deputy National President, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), commended the APPEALS project and the Lagos state government for their support towards the realisation of rice cultivation in the state.
Atho said that the project supported the farmers with farrow 44 rice seeds, adding that the farmers would not disappoint the government.
According to him, Badagry area has comparative advantage in rice cultivation due to access to water.
FIFAN official assured that over 300 Gberefun rice farms in Badagry would produce about 30 per cent of the paddy needed at the Imota rice mill.
“We thank the state government for all the equipment donated to us, the chemicals, fertilisers, nets, harvesting machine, transplanter, motorised sprayer and many more.
“We still want government to open more land for us so that we can expand our rice farm.
“We need bulldozers to open up the vast land we have here and other locations with Badagry,” he said. (NAN)