Experts laud Lagos, Niger partnership on food security


By Aluta News

March 17, 2024

They experts, in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Lagos, said the initiative would open more partnerships among states with comparative advantage and make the country self-sufficient in food production.

NAN reports that on March 6, Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State and his Niger counterpart, Umar Bago, signed an agreement to produce and process food for Lagos.

The agreement known as, “Produce for Lagos Initiative,” is an effort by both states to participate in emergency food security initiative to cultivate thousands of hectares to maintain a consistent food production and supply chain.

Following the agreement, there will be a significant supply of fresh farm produce to the Lagos Food Logistics hubs, ensuring efficient storage and distribution.

The foodstuffs include rice, grains, tubers, vegetables and others.

Prof. Olufemi Ajayi of the Department of Agricultural Extension and Rural Development, Faculty of Agriculture, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun, said the partnership was an eye opener for other state governors.

He said state governors should think outside the box to carve a niche for themselves in agriculture.

He said Niger would not produce food for Lagos for free, adding that the ultimate goal was empowerment and transformation of agriculture in the state.

He said the initiative would create jobs for citizens of Niger thorough engagement of farmers, and that it would also dislodge insurgents.

“The initiative will bring a lot of things to his state. I think several other states will learn from him and they will begin to look into the future of agriculture,” he said.

Ajayi urged the Lagos State government to see the partnership as a way to develop its area of comparative advantage, aside being a market for agricultural produce.

“As much as I agree that Lagos State is taking the bold step to partner with Niger, it should also look for areas where it has comparative advantage.

“I want to add that Lagos State is a riverine area, it can take advantage of that just as Niger is taken advantage of where it has comparative advantage.

“So that there will be a balance of trade. Lagos has the market but Lagos can also produce some things like fish.

“They should engage people not just artisanal fishing; there are other ways to produce fish.

“They should invest in that and let other parts of the country also come to look for partnership with Lagos State,” he said.

Similarly, Mr Raphael Hunsa, Chairman, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Lagos State Chapter, described the partnership between Lagos State and Niger as a welcome development.

He said irrespective of the partnership, the state government must continue to work with existing farmers in the state to improve food production.

He urged the government to give due recognition to farmers in the state in order to achieve success in agriculture.

“My advice is this; farmers should be recognised. If they are recognised things will work well because we are the ones on the field.

“If support is not given to farmers at the appropriate time, this may lead to low production.

“I want the Lagos State government to emulate what the governor of Niger has done by deploying more of its resources into food production,” he said.

Hunsa also noted that Lagos should not limit it potential to marketing and a consuming state alone, but one that is all encompassing about trade.

“If Lagos State too can harness its own potential by discussing and coordinating the farmers in a manner that will indicate that there are farmers in the state, things will improve.

“Lagos is not just for infrastructural development or a market destination for goods. It can also compete in its own little way.

“It should not remain a consuming state alone, the government should be strategic and work with farmers to increase food production,” he said.

Hunsa also urged the state government not to abandon farmers in the state because of the new partnership with Niger.

He commended the government for its support for rice farmers and called for more collaboration with RIFAN.

“Lagos State government should not render the farmers jobless because of the partnership with Niger. It must continue to support farmers.

“Lagos has land that we can use for food production but if there is no support, what can the farmer do, no miracle can happen.

“Although the state government has been trying for the past few years now, they empowered rice farmers to the extend that we produced some tons of rice paddy for the rice mill in Imota in 2023.

“If government can continue to empower and develop farmers, many people will come into farming.

“Government must continue to invest in rice production in order to entice the unemployed youth into the value chain.

“People are ready to work but when they are not getting enough support at the appropriate time, they will become discouraged.

“Lagos State government should emulate Niger by empowering more people,” he said.


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