Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State on Thursday said that there were abundant opportunities for entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector as Lagos residents consume N3 billion worth of food items daily.
Ambode disclosed this at the opening of a two-day Lagos Food Security Summit and Exhibition organised by the state’s ministry of agriculture.
The summit had the theme: “Actualising Sustainable Food Security in Lagos State: A New Comprehensive Agenda’’.
“The figure of food items consumed daily indicates that the investment climate in the state is bright.
“Investors are guaranteed a profitable return as the state is the largest consumer of food commodities in the country.
“This is, therefore, a call for huge public and private sector investments in the agricultural sector to ensure food security and create employment opportunities for the youths,’’ Ambode said.
According to him, some areas of investment opportunities in the state’s agricultural sector include modern abattoirs; agro processing for export, storage facilities, dairy farming, and livestock feeds production.
He said his administration’s core policy was geared toward achieving food security to maximise the state’s comparative advantage in agriculture and establish partnerships with other states.
“One of the challenges the current economic recession has brought to the fore is the urgent need to develop a sustainable programme that will guarantee food security for our people.
“Our country is blessed with very good arable land and climate that supports food production.
“We need to review and redirect our energies to food production, rather than spend billions of foreign exchange on importation of food and food items that can be cultivated in our country.
“This summit will help proffer solutions to the challenges militating against the achievement of food security and explore various investment opportunities in agriculture and agro-allied business in the state.
“These solutions will help stimulate private investment in the sector so that we can feed our nation and our people without resorting to importation,’’ he said.
Also speaking, Alhaji Sani Dangote, Chairman of the summit, advised the state government to rename the agriculture ministry the ministry of agri-business.
Dangote said that agriculture was a profitable business and was not only about poverty alleviation, as popularly viewed by Nigerians.
According to him, there cannot be any development where there is no food security in any given nation.
“Nigeria can grow its economy and increase its GDP, if agriculture is adequately given the attention it requires.
“I’m happy that the Lagos State Government recognised the place of agriculture and is already working in that direction,’’ Dangote said.
A Department for International Development (DFID-Nigeria) official, Mr John Woodruf, said the agricultural sector remained a key sector that should be given adequate attention by the Nigerian government.
Woodruf is the acting Deputy Director, DFID-Nigeria Development for International Trade.
“The UK Government recognises the great potentials of agriculture in Nigeria as a positive contribution to its economy.
“I urge you to import less and produce your foods.
“The UK government is ready to assist you to take this forward in ensuring food security and sustainability in Lagos and Nigeria as a whole,’’ he said.
In his address, Mr Oluwatoyin Suarau, Commissioner for Agriculture, said the state government was taking proactive steps, as the issue of food security had been attracting global attention.
Suarau said the government was creating the enabling environment, providing adequate infrastructure and evolving policies to improve food production, food security and alleviate poverty.
In his remarks, Mr Sanni Okanlawon, Special Adviser to Gov. Ambode on Food Security, said the summit was to review and discuss ways of ensuring food security in the state.
According to Okanlawon, the need to have a plan to ensure the fast-growing Lagos population has enough to eat today and in the future is urgent and important.