The British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation, (BATNF) has commended Nigerian farmers for their efforts geared towards ensuring food security and the growth of the Nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Member, BATN Foundation Technical Committee, Fatai Afolabi, who stated this in his welcome address at the 2019 World Food Day Lagos Farm Fair held in Lagos, noted that the desire to help bridge the gap between farmers and their markets led to the Foundation’s partnership with the Lagos State Government to organize the Fair.
“We all appreciate that no matter how fantastic a product is if it does not get to its end-users at the appropriate time, that product will rot away in storage. That is what propels us to collaborate with the Lagos State government and other sponsors to organize the Lagos Farm Fair
“In doing this, we are contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by fighting against poverty and hunger.” He said
Afolabi restated the Foundation’s commitment to advancing the cause of smallholder farmers and supporting agribusiness in the country.
According to him, “The BATN Foundation has always identified with smallholder farmers and will continue to do all it can to promote agricultural enterprise by encouraging a commercial mindset in subsistence farmers and supporting them to run their farms as sustainable agribusiness”
In her remarks, Executive Director, BATN Foundation, Abimbola Okoya, stressed that the collaborative effort with the Lagos State Government was also aimed at creating a platform to expose farmers to more opportunities and enable public access to fresh and organic farm produce.
“Since its inception in 2002, the Foundation has invested about N1.5 billion in supporting Federal and state governments as well as over 36,000 rural farmers in the production of crops like cassava, rice, and maize and in aquaculture and livestock, with the hope of reaching a target of 62,000 farmers in 2022,” she said.
In a keynote address, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr. Idris Salako, said the annual celebration being spearheaded by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation was about raising awareness on issues poverty and hunger and highlighting efforts being made by governments, institutions, organizations, and individuals to mitigate the negative effects on people.
“The theme for this year’s celebration, ‘Our actions Our Future: Healthy Diet for a Zero Hunger World’ speaks to the need for collective action towards not only increasing food production but also ensuring that adequate attention is paid to the quality of food being consumed,” he stated.
Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Prince Gbolahan Lawal expressed that World Food Day was a platform to highlight the importance of food and the role being played by all stakeholders.
He stressed that the efforts of the government to ensure food security had resulted in a lot of innovations aimed at preventing food shortage in the state.
“Part of good governance is to ensure food sufficiency for the populace, not just food sufficiency but wholesome, healthy food; and the Federal Government’s policy is to discourage food importation in its totality and promote the consumption of local produce.” The Commissioner said
Other dignitaries present at the occasion were the secretary to the state government, Mrs Folasade Jaji; Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Olayiwola Onasanya, and representatives of co-sponsors of the Fair, Stanbic Bank, and Standard Chartered Bank.