After a two-year hiatus occasioned by the covid-19 pandemic, the annual Lagos Farm Fair which is held in commemoration of World Food Day bounced back to life on Sunday, October 16, 2022 at the Police College Ground, Ikeja, Lagos.
The World Food Day was designated by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in 1979 to promote local awareness and action for those suffering from hunger and ensure a healthy diet for all.
Globally, this year’s commemoration, themed ‘Leave No One Behind’ raises further concerns about food security in view of multiple global challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, conflict, climate change, rising prices and international tensions as noted by the FAO. In Nigeria, the situation is further compounded by the recent flooding in some parts of the country that has resulted in the destruction of thousands of hectares of farmlands in addition to loss of hundreds of lives. About 150,000 hectares belonging to farmers mostly in Bauchi, Damaturu, Dutse, Gombe, Maiduguri and Yola are said to have been ravaged by the flooding and the losses estimated at about ₦30 billion. Already the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has issued a warning that the recent flooding incidents in some states in Nigeria would aggravate food insecurity and further increase in food prices nationwide.
The above sentiments reverberated during the just-concluded Lagos Farm Fair organized by the Lagos State government and sponsored by the British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation (BATNF) in partnership with the Stanbic IBTC Bank. The occasion was the grand finale of the weeklong activities, which earlier featured a press briefing on October 5 and a sensitization walk for the World Food Day and fitness on October 6. In attendance at the fair were top government functionaries in the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture, representatives of government agencies, agricultural institutes, agricultural cooperative societies and associations, food manufacturing and processing companies, and local government agricultural associations, among others.
Giving a keynote address at the occasion, the Lagos State governor, Mr Babajide Sanwoolu, pledged the state government’s determination to increase local food production from the present 20 percent demand to 40 percent, through the implementation of various programmes and initiatives, in a bid to eradicate hunger, poverty and achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs) relating to agriculture.
Mr Sanwo Olu, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs Folashade Jaji, said:
“The 2022 World Food Day campaign calls for global solidarity and action to restructure agrifood systems in order to create inclusive economic growth, alleviate inequality, boost resilience, and achieve sustainable development. This must be met for us to have a certain and healthy tomorrow.
“It is worthy to state that Lagos State is committed to eradicating hunger, and poverty and achieving the SDGs relating to agriculture. We have implemented numerous projects/programmes to tackle hunger, malnutrition, unemployment, and under-employment and also boost food production and supply systems, which is in line with the Lagos State Agricultural and Food System Roadmap (2021-2025).”
The State’s agricultural initiatives include Lagos State Food Market System Transformation Programme, Agricultural Value Chains Enterprise Activation Programme, and Eko Agro Mechanization Programme.
In an address, the Board Director, British American Tobacco Nigerian (BATN) Foundation, Odiri Erewa-Meggison, acknowledged the important role farmers play in ensuring food security, in spite of the myriad of challenges confronting them, while expressing BATN Foundation’s commitment to supporting them.
“Farmers are pivotal to our daily lives. They contribute immensely to every aspect of our lives. As a nation blessed with arable farmland, fertile and suitable to grow food, and a rich human capital resource, we believe Nigeria can comfortably be the largest producer and exporter of farm produce in Africa and indeed the world.
“BATN Foundation is committed to improving the lives the livelihood of local farmers and sustainable development. Over the last 20 years, the Foundation has worked assiduously with various players in the agricultural sector from research institutions, input dealers, processors and off-takers to develop initiatives that drive the most impact on the farmers. The Lagos Farm Fair is one of them.”
Speaking further Odiri said that the Foundation has invested over 2 billion naira and reached over 1.3 million beneficiaries in sustainable agricultural initiatives, providing financial support to rural farmers to cultivate food crops, and linking them also with processors and off-takers.
Earlier in a welcome address, the Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, said that the administration has since inception embarked on programmes and reforms aimed at ensuring food security for the State, noting that there are also policies intended to make the space profitable for stakeholders in various value chains that have been implemented. She sought further assistance to farmers from the state government.
Other exciting activities took place during the weeklong commemoration of the 2022 World Food Day such as the Lagos farmers forum and a quiz competition among secondary schools. Gbaja Boys Senior High School, Surulere emerged victorious in the school quiz competition while Agidingbi Senior Grammar School finished in second place; and Onitolo Community Senior High School came third.
There was also a Public Speaking competition organized under the auspices of Lagos Agric Scholars Programme (LASP) and Hunpe Klistiwedo, a student from Senior Model College, Kankon came first. He was decorated as the Agric Ambassador for the year 2022 to 2023.
Most significantly, the Lagos Farm Fair served as a day where farmers and other stakeholders in the various agriculture value chains were honoured and celebrated by the Lagos State government and private sectors for braving the odds in ensuring the availability of food in the state and country at large.
Published on Brandfit.