…As Ag. Commissioner says LASG supports mechanised farming to achieve food security***
The Lagos Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) Project, a World Bank -assisted programme – is training youths in new technology in aquaculture to develop its export potential.
The Project Coordinator, Mrs Oluranti Sagoe-Oviebo, made the disclosure during a tour of the Wheviyon Fish Farm Cooperative Agricultural Multipurpose Society in Badagry on Wednesday.
According to her, the training is to add value to aquaculture in the state and create export opportunities in it.
Sagoe-Oviebo said that the technology was to process fish-to-fish fillet, fish burger and fish crackers, hoping that youths would embrace it because of its export potential.
She said that the APPEALS Project observed that there were many youths in agriculture and was taking steps to identify them and adopting technologies that would suit them.
“We have observed that we have a lot of youths in agriculture, and we are taking deliberate steps to identify these youths and look for technologies they will adopt easily.
“One of the things we have done in the APPEALS Project is to add value to fish products beyond smoking.
“Our vision is to ensure that in every supermarket, you will only find made-in Nigeria fish crackers,” she said.
Sagoe-Oviebo said that the cluster group being trained was made up of graduates of fisheries from various tertiary institutions in Lagos.
She said that technology would make them more productive, noting that the market was huge.
“I can tell you that this cluster that is made up of 12 youths, all graduates of fisheries, are the first set of people to adopt the technology.
“If you go inside the production room, you will see what they are producing; in fact, they cannot meet the market demands.
“This is a technology they can easily identify with because it is new; you must be innovative to attract youths, that is what the project is all about, it is innovation all the way.
“APPEALS Project is all about enhancing the productivity of small and medium-scale farmers across three value chains, poultry, rice and aquaculture, in Lagos State,” she said.
The official said that the objective was to enhance productivity, increase process output and improve livelihood.
“One of the things the project is looking at is ensuring food security and promoting nutrition and export potential.
“One of the areas APPEALS is looking at is empowering existing farmers, women and youths,” she added.
She described the enthusiasm of the youths as wonderful, adding that with more support, they would do more.
The official said that capacity building was needed to empower the youth.
“They must know the principles guiding a lot of the things that they want to do, and these are the things that will propel them, the project is ready to support them in the adoption of processes.”
A beneficiary, Mr Jubril Kazeem, a graduate of Fisheries Technology, Lagos State Polytechnic, said that his passion for agriculture made him to apply to study the course.
Kazeem said agriculture was lucrative and interesting.
“I love agric and decided to study it.
It is stressful, but I enjoy doing it. I was introduced to aquaculture project by my boss for about 10 years now.
“I have been stocking mine until the APPEALS project came to empower me and my colleagues.
“We are 12 in number and all youths and graduates. We are being empowered with fish and feeds, which are the main inputs one needs to start with.
“In the next four months, I will harvest and sell the fish,” he said.
He urged Nigerian youths to start doing something no matter how little, and then seek support.
Another beneficiary, Miss Mosunmola Ayeola, commended the APPEALS Project for support given to youths in agriculture.
Ayeola, a graduate of Fisheries, Lagos State University, Ojo, said the project had brought much innovation to attract and empower the youth.
“I am into fish processing, l process it into fillet, fish crackers and fish burger.
“You can use fish in your burger and it is very filling, tasty and nutritious.
“Our fish crackers too are highly nutritious and tasty.
“These are the benefits that we get from APPEALS Project. I have been in fish business for 10 years and it has been awesome.
“APPEALS project has made it better,” she said.
In another development, the Lagos State Government on Wednesday restated its commitment to mechanised agriculture to ensure food security in the state.
The state’s Acting Commissioner for Agriculture, Abisola Olusanya, said this during an inspection of 550 hectares of rice farm under the Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) Project in Badagry
The team visited Blessed Farm, Gayingbo, a 250-hectares of Ofada rice farm and Gberefun Rice Production Cluster Farm, a 300-hectares rice farm, both in Badagry.
Other farms visited were Ashdod Commercial Fish Farmers Cooperative Agricultural Multipurpose, Adowo and Wheviyon Fish Farm Cooperative Agricultural Multipurpose Society, an Earthen pond in Torikoh, Badagry.
Olusanya also inspected rice and aquaculture value chain equipment provided such as fertilisers, mechanised transplanter, harvester, agro-chemicals, motorised sprayer, Ripper, fertilizer applicator, thresher, plough as well as fish and feeds for aquaculture provided for farmers by the state.
The acting commissioner expressed satisfaction with the farms visited and assured that the World Bank, Federal and Lagos state government would continue to support the farmers to ensure food security in the state.
According to her, agriculture of the future is not about hoes and cutlasses, but about tractorisation and mechanisation as well as other inputs that will make life easier for farmers.
“The ministry of agriculture has also carried out training for rice farmers just to ensure that upon completion of the Imota rice mill, we will have access to paddy from Badagry and other locations in the state.
“We want to ensure that the rice we are consuming in our state is actually planted in Lagos,” she said.
The acting commissioner urged the participants not to see themselves as ordinary farmers but as businessmen and women operating in the agric sector.
”We want you to start thinking of startegy to improve your production level, food supply and pricing,” the acting commissioner said.
Also, Mr Segun Atho, Deputy National President, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), commended the APPEALS project and the Lagos state government for their support towards the realisation of rice cultivation in the state.
Atho said that the project supported the farmers with farrow 44 rice seeds, adding that the farmers would not disappoint the government.
According to him, Badagry area has comparative advantage in rice cultivation due to access to water.
RIFAN official assured that over 300 Gberefun rice farms in Badagry would produce about 30 per cent of the paddy needed at the Imota rice mill.
“We thank the state government for all the equipment donated to us, the chemicals, fertilizers, nets, harvesting machine, transplanter, motorised sprayer and many more.
“We still want government to open more land for us so that we can expand our rice farm.
“We need bulldozers to open up the vast land we have here and other locations with Badagry,” he said.