Why Nigeria may escape food scarcity – Lawal
escape the looming food scarcity, this is the contention of Mr. Gahan Lawal, Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture. He assured that the Lagos State government and the Federal Government have put in place plans to mitigate the effects of food scarcity likely to happen after the flood.
Massive food importation is underway while rice seeds are given free to farmers and the cost of fertilizer reduced by 50%. The fear of major food scarcity was dispelled.
Speaking on Ray Power Radio – Fact File programme recently, Lawal said that because agriculture has no border, the state is working in unison with others. He acknowledged that acquaculture (fish farming) has been affected by the floods. The state is already assisting fish farmers. Youths have been brought into agriculture to reduce unemployment and enhance food security.
He explained that youths are trained for six months and six months internship. Most of them are university graduates, while University of Jerusalem is the major facilitator of the project. According to Lawal, this will reduce poverty and increase youth empowerment. On availability of land, he debunked the belief of hike in land price in Lagos State, calling it “a misconception.”
“We have land for acquaculture, piggery, poultry, rice which production can be technologically-driven, growing of vegetables, tomatoes, etc. Only 35% of the land had so far been used. We are engaged in intensive farming and not extensive farming.” He disclosed that Lagos State produces 200,000 pigs yearly which is the highest in the country. There are also several poultry estates.
“Those who are producing (farmers) are given services and subsidised inputs. There is processing time for poultry.” Lawal added: “We are collaborating with other states like Oyo, Osun in agricultural activities, doing research and giving information to farming families.” He stated that there are several farm settlements in Lagos State, and over 400 youths in a particular settlement. Specifically there are nine farm settlements and several estates.
Government is creating other status, providing knowledge and ensuring quality farmers. “It’s faster to train people with education because people with knowledge can do much.” He called on people with financial means to invest in agriculture, saying that the budget has been increased by 1,500% to take care of needed infrastructure and cautioned that food importation should stop.
Any nation that cannot produce its own food will be vulnerable. He appealed to those who are interested in farming to come down to Lagos. It is lamentable that over N600 billion is spent yearly for food importation by Nigeria.
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