Nigerian farmers and other agriculture stakeholders have expressed displeasure over the N365 billion spent every year on rice importation into the country’s markets.
The Commissioner for Agriculture and Cooperatives, Lagos state, Prince Gbolahan Lawal said this at the unveiling of the value chains business manual packaged by the Commercial Agriculture Development Project in Lagos.
The commissioner who was represented at the event by Mr. Tunde Giwa of the same ministry said it was better to ban the importation of rice gradually to allow locally produced rice, like the Ofada rice to thrive. He said banning the importation of rice will also reduced unemployment among the youths in the country
He continued by saying that the commercial agriculture development with the assistance of the World bank has supported 741 farmers under the rice value chain with various inputs including tractor, milling machine, threshing machine, combine harvester, willower, agrochemicals and many more adding that commercial agriculture development has also intervened in land preparation for rice by changing the operating system from manual to mechanized system with the provision of 4WD tractors and implements which has reduced the cost of land preparation from N30,000 to N50,000 per hectare
Giwa said "Commercial agriculture has supported over 1284 farmers under the poultry value chain with various inputs including nipple fitted battery cages, tricycle, egg transport crates, combined hatchery and incubator, defeathering machine as well as promoting the use of nipple fitted battery cage for poultry birds by project beneficiaries as against the open drinkers system and it has resulted in reducing the mortality and disease transmission by over 15 percent, increase in egg production by 20 percent and feed waste by over 40 per cent"
He continued by saying that the commercial agriculture has also supported 1483 farmers under the aquaculture value chain with collapsible fish tank, extruding technology, fish seed, solar submersible pumping machine as well as acquisition of improved smoking kilns and improved packaging materials, commodity interest groups in the state under the aquaculture processing value chain
Professor Adewale Dipeolu a guest speaker from the federal university of agriculture, Abeokuta in his address thanked the Lagos state government for taking agriculture away from peasantry to big business adding that the step Lagos state has taken will help the country as a whole move from small scale production to large scale production with a profit making attitude
He also beckoned on the government to back agriculture with infrastructure, long term funds, land and adequate intermediate technology. He however told farmers to be alert to change in government policies and environment as well as market forecasts.
Adewale continued by saying that farmers should also be very innovative and learn how to go with market trends adding that innovation will assist in placing agriculture business in Nigeria in the map of the world
> He said " Is a good thing Lagos state government and indeed the Minister of Agriculture Adewunmi Adeshina is taking agriculture very serious, this action will help increase innovation and create employments and at the long run, Nigeria can feed itself and feed other nations as well".
Mr Kehinde Ogunyinka, the state project coordinator of commercial agriculture development project thanked guest for attending and added that commercial agriculture will not relent in its efforts to assist small and medium scale farmers in producing high quality produce for food security need of the teeming populace within and outside the state