Nigeria: Pillars of Food Security

Lagos — The Lagos State government is exploring its potential to maximise food production.

Food insecurity is one of the global challenges threatening humanity. World leaders are constantly devising means of providing adequate food for the growing world’s population.

Research efforts are in legion on how to maximize land and other agriculture resources for bounty yields to feed mankind.

Genetic modification crops and green house farming are the popularized modern agricultural methods which aimed at controlling agric yields and outputs in a controlled environment and predicated fashion. All these among other scientific methods are geared at addressing food insecurity that looms as the world population explodes.

In Nigeria, the situation is not entirely different from realities in other climes. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report indicates a spiral trajectory of food price inflation hitting 21.7 percent Year -On-Year in February, 2021.

The implications of the research data are grave on the household incomes of the middle-class and mass of the people at the bottom of the pyramid.

The interplay of basic economic principles of demand and supply dynamics are largely responsible for the soaring prices of staple food which are fast becoming luxury for many families.

Violent extremism in the far north had forced many farmers to flee farms and banditry in north central states like Benue which is reputed as food basket of the nation has devastated impacts on aggregate farm produce.

So, the crisis, in addition to other factors, has caused food shortage; thereby forcing up the prices of agricultural commodities. The entire value-chain, and sectors in agriculture, was challenged including livestock, especially poultry.

As imminent food crisis stares everyone in the face, the Lagos State government under the leadership of Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu set out a rescue plan that will preserve the lives of over 20 million Lagosians he pledged to serve. As a boardroom guru that transited into public service, he knows the importance of planning.

Though Lagos is Nigeria’s smallest state in land mass, Sanwo-Olu has evolved how the small acreages of land dedicated for agric purposes can be maximized using modern farming methods and science.

The Sanwo-Olu administration is also exploring the competitive advantage that nature has bestowed on the state in the areas of aquaculture and allied processing. The large bodies of water surrounding Lagos will be maximized to boost fish and other oceans foods supplies.

In the Sanwo-Olu five-year agric road map, the existing government agric schemes will get greater support and funding.

As the state targets economies of scale in the sector, the Poultry Estate in Erikorodo, Ikorodu, Fish Farm Estate, Odogunyan, Piggery Estate, Gberigbe, Imota Rice Mill, Farm Training Institute, Araga, Epe among other facilities are in for best of times as the deliberate agric-focused policies will stimulate outputs in those facilities.

All these great potential and plans are the issues that were highlighted at the well-attended formal unveiling of the Lagos State Five-Year Agricultural and Food Systems Roadmap (2021-2025) in Victoria Island last Thursday.

Stakeholders including mechanized farmers, development partners, banks and others who are critical to the success of the ambitious master plan were assembled in the room for deliberations and cross fertilization of ideas.

The goal is to rake in a whopping $10bn by 2025. Such a tall dream requires onboarding everyone that matters in the sector and financiers. After the conceptualization of the plans and thorough review, back and forth considerations, the event was to put the document through multi-disciplinary scrutiny.

The chief host, Governor Sanwo-Olu led the way and identified three pillars that the programme is anchored on, and they include the growth of the upstream sector via leverage on technologies, growth of the midstream and downstream sectors, and the doubling down of participation of the private sector. He said, “Our strategies for sustainable Agricultural Development shall focus on three pillars. First, we will grow the upstream sector through interventions by leveraging technologies that are capable of lowering the cost of production of value chains; focus on growing the midstream and downstream sectors that are of value and lastly, we will improve on private sector participation by developing and initiating policies that will encourage more private investments in agriculture. The projection is that the total investment in the agricultural sector from the government, private sector, donor agencies and development partners will run into over $10 billion in the next five years. While we expect most of the investment to be private sector-driven, the government will continue to provide the needed infrastructure while the private sector will be encouraged to lead the key projects.”

Buttressing the position of the governor, the Commissioner of Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, said, “The road map was conceived to ensure that the agricultural sector plays the role of ensuring sustainable food security. It will focus on the development of agricultural value chains where the state has competitive and comparative advantages to ensure that the state’s self-sufficiency in food production moves from 18% to 40% of food needs in the next five years and thus ensure that Lagos State achieves the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as it relates to the sector.”