Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has charged financial institutions to fund and give preference to agriculture like the oil sector, to boost food production.
Sanwo-Olu made the call at a programme with the theme: ‘Urban Farming: Feeding the Cities’.organised by the Consulate General of the Kingdom of Netherlands in conjunction with the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture, on Wednesday in Lagos.
The governor, represented by his Deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, noted that Lagos State occupied the smallest geographical space in Nigeria, but had a population of over 22 million people.
He said that the urban farming initiative would ensure the availability of good quality planting materials and agricultural equipment for the farmers in the state.
The governor said it would increase local production of leafy and fruit vegetables.
Sanwo-Olu said that the government was collaborating with Netherlands’ Ministry of Agriculture on urban farming to ensure food security and a boost in agricultural production in the state.
According to him, the increasing influx of unplanned migrant population has continued to create a large demand for food generally.
“It is our belief that urban farming initiatives have the potential of improving the food basket of the urban dwellers.
“It reduces spoilage of foods due to long hours of transportation majorly caused by vehicle breakdowns and reduces cost of transportation from rural to urban areas.
“Urban farming will also provide farmers with various agricultural inputs, technologies, equipment and other technical know-how that would stimulate aggressive and sustainable agricultural production.
“Urban farming comes with great benefits, in that, it is adaptable, accessible, aids the provision of inexpensive fresh produce, particularly to low-income communities,
“It will also build bonds by stimulating the economy and providing a mutually beneficial experience, and reduces the need for huge capital outlay for land purchase,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu said his administration had given agricultural production a boost by making food security one of the cardinal programmes of the THEMES Agenda and a key strategy toward making Lagos a 21st-century economy.
“We have embarked on various projects and programmes aimed at increasing food production as well as providing food security by laying more emphasis on areas where we have a comparative advantage,” he said.
He urged farmers at the forum to network with their Dutch counterparts towards harnessing the useful technologies that can bring about increased food yields in the most sustainable ways.
The Netherlands Consul-General, Mr Michel Deleen, who was represented by his Deputy, Mr Arie Plieger, noted that Netherlands is the second largest producer in the agriculture sector, after the United States.
He said that the country was ready to help Lagos and Nigeria to attain food security and sustainability through urban farming and technology.
“It is a crucial time to talk about food and how to improve food production not only in the interest of Lagos, Nigeria and the Netherlands but this is beyond borders and continent.
“We as a global community have so many mouths to feed, growing population around the globe. We want to strengthen food security, food safety for everyone,” he said.
Also, Mr Bram Wits, the Regional Agriculture Counselor for West Africa, Netherlands Ministry of Agriculture, said that they were in Nigeria on a Trade and Investment agenda.
Wits said that Netherlands made a total of 1billion euro export in agriculture to the rest of the world in 2021.
“We are here to partner and develop the agriculture structure of Nigeria together and South-West in particular,” he said.
Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, said the programme was a knowledge sharing and networking one on Urban Farming.
She said that the theme was apt as the Lagos State Government had set for itself the target to increase the quantity of food it produces and consumes from 20 – 24 per cent to 40 – 50 per cent by the year 2025.