Sunday, April 27, 2014

Lagos exemplary approach to food production

The recent disclosure by Lagos State government to expand its forays for enhanced agriculture productivity through the acquisition of farmland in Northern region of Nigeria for crop and livestock production is quite laudable and commendable. We recall that only recently the State acquired farmland in the States of Ogun and Osun as well as in the Federal Capital territory (FCT), Abuja for agricultural production. The State Commissioner for Agriculture and Cooperative, Gbolahan Lawal made the disclosure while briefing the media on the activities of his ministry. He explained that the decision was reached owing to the shortage of arable land in Lagos State to boost food production.

Lagos state was created in 1967. Until 1992 it served as the Federal Capital Territory and seat of power in Nigeria. It is now the commercial hub of Nigeria. Lagos has an estimated landmass of 3345 square kilometers (km2) and a current population estimated at 17.5 million. The Northern Nigeria has an estimated landmass of about 725,321 km2 while the South has about 197,679 km2 of which Lagos has 3345 km2. This wide disparity in landmass must be the attraction of the Lagos government to acquire farmlands in the Northern region. The economic and political benefits of that decision are quite enormous and invaluable both to Lagos State, which has become home to so many Nigerians from all over Nigeria, and indeed the Nigerian nation.

The Commissioner while explaining further the circumstances that led to the decision reveal that only 10 % of the food needs of Lagosians was produced domestically in the State. He also stated thus, “Lagos State, because of its population, is a large consumer of agricultural products. And in order to meet the great demands, we are establishing farms in other states, where they have so much arable land.” Hinting on the plans of government to achieve 25% in its domestic agricultural production by 2018, Lawal also stated that “we have also trained no fewer that 400 graduate farmers under our Agriculture Youth Empowerment Scheme.”

We applaud the Lagos state for these giant strides in the agriculture sector especially as It will not only enhance food production but also shore up economic activity by way of increased provision of employment opportunities and guarantee economic prosperity for the teeming population of the State. The well thought out plan, if provided with the various financial supports for small and medium enterprises (SME) entrepreneurship, will immensely contribute to the much desired diversification of the Nigerian economy. We believe that in the long run this unique cross-boundary commercial agricultural venture will in addition to its very rewarding economic outcomes, also engender the much desired national unity. That is why we recommend that other states in Nigeria, especially in the South that have limited landmass should emulate the exemplary plan and practice of Lagos.

However, with hindsight we hope this is not another political hype or grand design for ulterior motives. This is because it seems to us that the available land in Lagos State is not being utilized judiciously. So much of poor planning or outright lack of planning has characterised Lagos state land use since after the Alhaji Lateef Jakande administation with so much reserved land opened up to private housing estates and various non-agricultural needs. Perhaps the state government needs to review its housing and architectural requirements and do better than it is doing with agricultural production at the moment.

We also expect Lagos to exploit her comparative advantage in having a large expanse of body of waters and extensively develop her fishery and fish production to provide more and cheaper fish and protein for Lagosians. While still applauding the worthwhile decision to own farmlands outside its boundaries, we recommend it undertakes a conscious land and sea audit with the purpose of reviewing its land use policies and reserving more land for agriculture and food production in Lagos State.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Please Like Us On facebook