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Lagos Partners Kwara, Niger To Actualise Tinubu’s Food Security Agenda

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By Olayinka Olawale

The Lagos State Government is partnering Kwara, Niger and 20 other states to actualise President Bola Tinubu’s agenda to boost food security.

Ms Abisola Olusanya, then state’s Commissioner for Agriculture, made this announcement at a meeting with her counterparts from Kwara and Niger states, in her office at Alausa on Tuesday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that one of the Tinubu’s agenda for achieving food sufficiency is to cultivate 500,000 hectares of farmland across the country to produce maize, rice, wheat, and other crops.

Olusanya said Lagos State had identified 25 states under the partnership but would start with Kwara and Niger in the first phase.

She said the partnership with the states was aimed at improving food production, distribution and reduce food wastage in line with President Tinubu’s food security agenda.

Olusanya presented a drafted Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to the two commissioners for review and inputs to ensure success of the project.

She said the state government had invested in various agricultural projects to boost food security and increase food production from 20 per cent to 40 per cent in the next five years.

Olusanya said the projects include the Central Food Logistic Hub, Ketu, Ereyun; Middle level Agro Produce Food Hub, Mushin and the largest rice mill in Africa, the Lagos Rice Mill, Imota, among others.

She said Lagos requires over one million tonnes of tomatoes and rice annually.

“This partnership is going to be across board, we are talking about 20 to 25 states. We have identified states based on what we know they produce the most.
“We need Niger and Kwara states to achieve food security. The three states coming together, we will be able to chart a new course on food security.

“We have presented a drafted MoU, it is for Niger and Kwara states to go back and look through it, see areas where they want to add or remove as well as look at the operationality and modalities and peculiarities around it.

“Why we are starting with Niger? It is because Niger State has the largest landmass in Nigeria. When you are talking of the possibilities of producing food in large production or commercial quantity, Niger State is a state to look at.

“Same thing with Kwara State. Kwara shares border with Niger, so when it comes to food production, these two have the land, they have the people and they have the capability to also produce,” she said.

Olusanya noted that the relationship with the governors of both states had been on for quiet sometime.

“When you have like-minded governors, who want some things move, then you move along and quickly do what you have to do around striking a partnership, while other states start to move along.

“This is an agenda that we want for a lot of states across Nigeria, it is not just Kwara and Niger but we are kicking off with those that are like-minded,” she said.

The commissioner said the partnership would not be limited to any particular food items from partnering states.

“We are not looking at any particular food item, practically all food is consumed in Lagos. We have all tribes, all religions and all ethnicities in Lagos.

“If it is wheat, you will have a community that loves wheat, if it is maize, everyone uses maize including poultry farmers, if it is rice, we all consume rice,” she added.

“Any other type of grain that you can think of, including cassava, we consume and the commissioner for Niger said, anything they throw in Niger grows, anything you bring to Lagos we eat.

“There’s nothing you bring into Lagos that will not sell because there is a target audience for it.

“It is not so much about us trying to reinvent the will, there are markets already in Lagos, we know the food items that comes into Lagos.

“Whatever Kwara and Niger states can bring in, we will consume as long as they are certified to be of good quality and at a good price. I just know that this is just the beginning of the collaboration with most of these states in Nigeria that particularly are producing food.

“Subsequently, we should be able to seek better food pricing, less wastage of food or zero post-harvest losses and creating wealth for our farmers, value chain actors and market men and women,” she noted.

In her response, Mrs Oloruntoyosi Thomas, Kwara State Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said her state was excited to partner with Lagos for food production.

“We have a lot of produce that can come into Lagos from Kwara.

“For us, this is beyond an exchange of goods, it’s bridging gaps, it’s about building communities and empowering our farmers.

“It’s also about ensuring that there is food security. We are happy to key into this, to be able to help feed Kwara residents first before we then feed Lagos and the entire nation,” Thomas added.

Also, Mr Suleman Takuma, Niger State Commissioner for Industry, Trade and Investment and Private Sector Development, said the partnership would help actualise the agricultural transformation agenda of the state.

“What we have done today is what is going to make the agricultural transformation strategy of Niger state work because the governor has kick started that.

“We have started with 600 hectares of land, one hectare per each youth, whether a lady or a man, or youth. Government will give them inputs, including the seeds and the fertiliser.

“The thinking initially was who will offtake, so now we have an off-taker because we are going to be a producing state and Lagos State is going to be the consuming state.

“What we need to iron out now is what product they want because anything you throw in Niger State grows. What products are we going to bring into Lagos State.

“This relationship that we have just started, for me is a very exciting one and it’s also challenging, else we have to make it work.

“And like the commissioner said, it is not rocket science, in the next six months, Nigerians should be able to see the relationship among Kwara, Niger and Lagos states.

“I believe that once this thing is going smoothly, before you know it, other states will fall within. It is a good start and I am hoping that this is going to work for all of us,” he said. (NAN)

Edited by Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma

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