By Kenneth Afor
Oluranti Sagoe-Oviebo, Lagos State project coordinator of Agro-processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) Project has said that plans are ongoing by the state government to empower 10,000 women and youths into agriculture to maximize the states’ limited land and create value.
She added that through the APPEALS Project, the state government has verified and empowered 1,800 farmers who are women and youths out of the registered 3, 500, she said this at the Lagos Farmers’ Fair in commemoration of the World Food Day.
According to Sagoe-Oviebo, the APPEALS Project has created solar-powered mobile markets across the twenty Local Government Areas in the state for the purpose of preventing post-harvest losses for the farmers and they are looking multiple uses of all of these Agric products and how they can put these products to mitigate post-harvest losses and trigger production.
The mobile market would be able to add value to farmers in the production of fish farming, with this, they can add value by transforming their fishes or poultry produce into barbeque thereby mitigating losses on their harvests.
She said, “In Lagos state, we promote intensive farming, agriculture has gone beyond you having a lot of land space and then your output is very minimal, we are looking at how can we minimize a little space and get maximum yields, so one of the things that the governor is looking at is how can we make maximum use of what we have and that is one of the reasons why the APPEALS Project is aligning with the state government’s initiative on how do we enhance productivity, utilizing the same land space to get better yields but beyond just getting better yields, we know that if we get better yields and there is no market it becomes an issue and one of the things that Lagos has as an an advantage over a lot of other states is the population advantage, we have a lot of people so this is a hub where we can easily get markets for what we produce but we are looking beyond just having markets for what we do but we are looking at how to add value so that we can get a premium price for what we produce so that is exactly what appeals project stands for.”
She added, “We have the mobile market that is solar-powered, and you can easily have your refrigerator, your chilling system, your cold chain, this is something that you can find in any local government, we are looking at the high end areas where you can actually have these mobile markets, so, beyond production, when farmers produce, when these young entrepreneurs can actually obtain it and do this rather than having people have post-harvest losses, once you have this the mobile market, you can transform your oranges to juice, your tilapia into barbeque, you can have your fries here, you can have your frozen chickens in this system.”
In today’s society, there’s little or no interest in agriculture by the youths due to the preconceived stress and hardship associated with it, Sagoe-Oviebo stressed that the APPEALS Project is currently engaging the youths to channel their energies into agriculture.
“We have this slogan; the laptop carrying farmers right now where the youths carry their laptops to do a lot of things in agriculture and as you can see, that’s what we have here. We want to improve their livelihoods by engaging the youths and women in agriculture, making agriculture interesting for a lot of people and we are looking at technologies that are interesting that can attract young people into the Agric sector right now. We want to enhance the the productivity of our farmers, we want to add value to what they are doing, we want to take them to the international markets so these are the things the Lagos state is looking at with the support of his excellency,” said Sagoe-Oviebo
There is a general belief that the state has little land for farming and that most of what is consumed in the state is transported from states in the northern and eastern parts of the country but Sagoe-Oviebo debunked the notion that the state has a lot of land for farm settlements such as Epe, Ise (rice farm settlement), Ikorodu, Alimoso, Badagary (aquatic farm settlement) but however hinted that farmers can adopt aqua ponies, a method of culturing fish in a very little space and other farming techniques that necessarily doesn’t require a large space.
Also, she hinted that the state is on course in making available it’s own rice brand for consumption and export to other countries that is, aside from the popular Lake Rice that surfaces every yuletide.
“We still have Lake Rice in the market, and beyond that, we are looking at developing pure Ofada rice stream, you know when you eat Ofada rice you find different types of rice grains inside it but part of the mandate of this project is to have pure rice grain to look like imported rice but it is Ofada and we can even sell outside the shores of this country, so these are some of the things the governor is looking at to help farmers,” she said.