Food Security: Lagos State’s Fruitful Partnership With APPEALS Project – By Ayo Oyoze Baje

According to the United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security, the term food security is defined as meaning that, “all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life”.

Similarly, at the 1974 World Food Conference, held in Rome it was defined with an emphasis on supply. Food security is therefore seen as the “availability at all times of adequate, nourishing, diverse, balanced and moderate world food supplies of basic foodstuffs to sustain a steady expansion of food consumption and to offset fluctuations in production and prices”.

Without an iota of doubt therefore, one of the indices for assessing the success of any government is an economic paradigm that ensures adequate and nutritious food for the led majority of the people.  In fact, there is ample evidence to indicate that food security was of great concern thousands of years ago, with central authorities in ancient China and Egypt were known to have intentionally released food from storage in times of famine. That of Nigeria, nay Lagos state cannot be different.

Of great significance and interest is the focus the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu-led administration   has placed on the assurance of food security for the ever-expanding population in the state.  For instance, on the 29th of July 2021 the government rolled out massive agricultural investment, empowering 3000 urban and rural farmer’s in key sectors to foster the value chains in the process. He further revealed that 300 youths have been trained in Aquaculture and Poultry Production at the Lagos Agripreneurship Programme (LAP) and that they were also empowered with agricultural inputs valued at N245 million.

Other beneficiaries of the initiative included 400 pig farmers, 680 fishermen, 190 fish cage culture artisans, 360 egg marketers, 500 fish processors, 200 rice farmers and 370 crop farmers. According to the governor, ” This Agricultural Value Chains Enterprise Activation Programme is a clear demonstration and expansion of the agricultural sector, which is driven by a farm- to- table model that aligns with our goals of making Lagos a truly 21st century economy.” The event which took place at the Police College, Ikeja Lagos saw to the empowerment of women and youths drawn from all the local government areas of the state.

He disclosed that his administration was set to establish Wholesale Agricultural Produce Hubs in strategic locations across the state. The laudable aim is to promote food safety and ensure access to direct markets for fresh-from-farm products, thereby reducing post-harvest losses for farmers.

To further drive home the salient message of the government’s commitment to food security and farmers’ productivity it has an ongoing partnership with the Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) Project. This is a Federal Government of Nigeria FGN-World Bank Assisted programme.  Its development objective is to enhance agricultural productivity of small and medium scale farmers and improve value addition along priority value chains in the participating states.

The project has five components. Amongst these are production and productivity enhancement to increase total supply of the targeted priority value chains. It also has the thematic focus on primary processing, value addition, post-harvest management and women and youth empowerment. The aim of course, is to see to the reduction of post-harvest losses while it provides infrastructural support to agri-business clusters to improve on the physical environment.

In addition to these are technical assistance, knowledge management and communication to build capacity of the project staff. There are also the project management and coordination to ensure effective management and coordination of the project for proper accomplishment of project-related goals and the achievement of the Project Development Objective (PDO).

 It is worthy of note that for the Lagos state government to benefit from these profitable policies it recently held the Pre-7th Implementation Support Mission of the Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project at the APPEALS Project State Coordinating Office in Agege. Right there the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya, reiterated the fact the agriculture remains one of the major drivers in achieving sustainable economic growth.

She emphasized the fact that food security can be achieved in Lagos and Nigeria at large through the application of technological advancement and most importantly through self-commitment to a better Nigeria. And that is precisely what the APPEALS Project is doing by directly contributing to the 17 goals of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as the six pillars of the THEMES agenda of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu led administration. For instance, it is improving value addition along the chosen priority value chains, which are poultry, aquaculture and rice production.

 To make its impact meaningful a total of 2,691 farmers, SMEs have been supported directly with physical inputs and equipment across poultry, rice and aquaculture while 3,516 stakeholders have benefitted indirectly. Also, 1,621 Women and Youth Empowerment beneficiaries have been trained and their empowerment implementation is in progress. About 8,000 farmers have received training and technology demonstrations with strong evidence of a positive resultant effect on the PDO.

Commendable is the fact that the Lagos APPEALS Project team has been enhancing farmers’ productivity in state. In the words of Olusanya: “The State Steering Committee (SSC) and State Technical Committee (STC) have been performing their oversight functions in ensuring that the project implementation remains on course and our interaction with project stakeholders with a level of interventions through monitoring is so far satisfactory. However, Lagos State being a State of Excellence is always striving to be better.”

One’s piece of candid advice therefore, is for the state to continue to strengthen the partnership through the regular payments of counterpart contributions. This has been reinforced by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Hakeem Adeniji, who is the Chairman, APPEALS Project State Technical Committee. And also the National Coordinator of APPEALS Project, Mr. Mohammed Sanni Jobdi, who was represented by Dr. Salisu Garba, who said the project at the national level is encouraged by what Lagos APPEALS project has been doing.

He also commended Lagos State Project Coordinator of APPEALS, Mrs. Oluranti Sagoe-Oviebo and her team for meeting the yearnings and aspirations of thousands of farmers in line with the objectives of the APPEALS. So far, it has impacted positively in the lives and boosted the farmers’ productivity, specifically  in Lagos State.

This much the trio of the Chairman, Lagos State chapter of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Otunba Femi Oke; President, Lagos State Catfish and Allied Farmers Association, Alhaja Nurat Atoba and Representative of Poultry Association of Nigeria, Mr. Olufemi Stephen have affirmed.

Going forward, it is important that more public enlightenment is made on this praise-worthy and pragmatic partnership between the Lagos state government and APPEALS Project. Several small and medium scale farmers who truly need the intervention in the areas of poultry farming, aquaculture and rice production may still not be aware of it.

Perhaps, there could be an annual event such as a Trade Fair specifically targeted at showcasing the products of beneficiaries. This will draw the needed public attention to the benefits accruable to the participants. And because Lagos state is known for its aquatic splendor the focus on the mass production, preservation and processing of sundry species of fish, crabs, crayfish and lobsters should be exhibited.

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