By Lukman Olabiyi
As part of the effort to boost investment in the agricultural value chain in Lagos State, Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu yesterday, disbursed N3.6billion to 1,786 successful applicants as start-ups.
The initiative which is empowerment, was a tripartite agreement scheme supported by the World Bank and the Federal Government with the state.
And It was structured on the basis of the Women and Youth Empowerment Programme (WYEP) under the Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) Project.
For the empowerment scheme, over 8,000 applications were received, but only 1,786 were selected, with at least N2 million average worth of financial assets and access to mentorship link for professional guidance.
In his remarks at the official handing-over of cheques to the beneficiaries, Sanwo-Olu said his administration has remained steadfast in the state’s counterpart contribution to the tripartite formation for smooth and effective implementation of the project.
“As you are aware, the APPEALS is a tripartite agreement between the Lagos State Government, supported by the Federal Government and of course the World Bank.
“Since the commencement of the programme in the state, we have been steadfast in our own commitment through regular payment of our counterpart contribution to ensure we have a smooth and effective implementation of the project in the State.
“We are strongly committed to enhancing the agricultural productivity of small and medium scale farmers in Lagos State and improving value addition along our agricultural value chain, which is our core objective under the Lagos APPEALS project,” he said.
As a strategic focus to drive the economy, Sanwo-Olu said agriculture offers women and youths the opportunities to make difference in their immediate communities, the State and the Nation at large.
He stated that recent focus on agriculture has been turning around employment narratives for youths in the state, adding that youth engagement with technological mechanisms have been enhancing productivity in the sector with access to finance provided by the state.
“I believe that an effective deployment of technology in this sector would improve productivity, attainment of food sufficiency and food security, as well as, create what we see as job creation on one hand, and also livelihood and sustainability on the other hand,” Sanwo-Olu said.
Sanwo-Olu disclosed that road projects spanning about 14km to facilitate market access for farms across the State would be completed before June 2022.
Sanwo-Olu said though land limitation for the State are real, yet the State can be an agricultural food print for the nation, mentioning that with about 30 per cent water resource capacity of the State’s territorial space, Lagos can be positioned at the hub of aquaculture for a blue economy.
Stressing that there are opportunities for agro-processing capacities in the State, he mentioned that with the teeming Lagos population “the market is right” as an added advantage for the stakeholders with high turn-over.
Sanwo-Olu disclosed that efforts were being mustered to develop agricultural zones in Epe, Ikorodu and Badagry as food baskets in the State.
He noted that other ongoing intervention by his administration in the sector would lighten up the state’s agriculture sector and its include: the ongoing 32 metric tonnes Imota Rice Mill (largest in Africa on completion); a large Market Hub in Ketu on about 80 hectares expanse of land; 750 hectares feedlot system in Epe processing about 150,000 herds of cattle annually; and the LASTMILE Meat Safety Ideal Programme, touching about 3,000-3,500 butchers to clean up the red meet value chain with hygiene.
Sanwo-Olu however called on the beneficiaries to optimise the knowledge and skills from various agricultural training institutes, “to hit the ground running to justify the huge investments,” to improve plan to become employers of labour.
In her remarks, the State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya, mentioned that the programme was designed and targeted at increasing productivity, and marketing of aquaculture, poultry and rice, among other produce in the value chain.
She added that in a bid to increase youth participation to take over the ageing population, the State Government has continued to introduce strategic measures of modern provisions to make agriculture appealing to youths.
According to her, the Governor Sanwo-Olu led administration is determined to continue the process of producing successful entrepreneurs in the agriculture value chain, while critically investing to create competitive environment for more engagement in correspondence to the United Nation’s goals and the THEMES agenda – the Administration’s policy thrust.
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