GOVERNOR Babajide Sanwoolu has announced plans to launch a radical agricultural expansion programme in Lagos State centred around the coastal city of Badagry that will increase food self-sufficiency to 50% from the current 20%.
Highly urbanised and heavily populated, Lagos State is a commercial and industrial centre which relies on the bulk of its food from other parts of Nigeria. Being the smallest state in the country with a meagre landmass of 3,577 km² that has to accommodate a whopping 22m people, there is very little scope for farming in Lagos State.
To help ameliorate this problem, previous Lagos State governments have hired land in Oyo State for agriculture. However, there are still some rural parts of Lagos, especially in the Badagry axis to the west of the state, which used to be renown by coconut production and Governor Sanwoolu wants to exploit the potential this offers.
According to Governor Sanwoolu, his administration will revive the agricultural potentials of Badagry, particularly, the Avia Organic Farm and other plantations which have been abandoned. He listed some of the agricultural projects to be developed for commercial production and organic farming to include fishing, poultry, piggery and agro-forestry.
Governor Sanwoolu also disclosed that Lagos State would be engaging private sector to secure an investment into the project, which, when completed, would create thousands of direct jobs and improve the wellbeing of the residents. He added that the revival of the Badagry Organic Farm and creation of more food production parks across the state were part of the strategy designed by his government to increase food security level to 50% from 20%, thereby raising Lagos’ food sufficiency.
“I have been fully briefed about this project but I considered it necessary to personally embark on this journey to Badagry in order to take assessment and see what exactly we need to do in terms of intervention. After taking a tour of the project site, what I observed is that the entire project looks more as a job that has not been completed, so therefore, we need to improve on the interventions.
“With very minimal resources, we have seen what the ministry of agriculture has done to keep the project afloat, so the government will raise the resources and turn around this project to the level it should be. We will need to deploy more resources to revive it and scale up all the machinery and systems already put in place, so we can complete the project and open it for commercial production,” Governor Sanwoolu added.
He pointed out that the project would give rise to agro-allied businesses that would open up Badagry’s economy for more growth, while also boosting its tourism business. Governor Sanwoolu said: “Lagos is a big state in terms of population but we also can intervene in our food production value chain.
“What we are also trying to do with the revival of the project is that, we want to produce various agricultural products we can consume internally in order to reduce our dependence on external food sources. The food production park, which we are creating across the state, will be a trigger to other value-added agricultural production our citizens can provide.”