Lagos State government has commended farmers for their contributions, hard work and vigour in ensuring that the food supply chain was not broken especially during the COVID-19 lockdown, saying that their contributions were greatly recognised and appreciated.
The State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, gave this commendation at the December edition of the Eko City Farmers’ Fair and Farmers’ Appreciation Day held on Sunday at the Ndubusi Kanu Park, Alausa, Ikeja.
At the event, Dr Yakub Bashorun emerged as the Best Farmer of the Year, Samuel Omitunde, emerged as the Most Promising Farmer of the Year and Mrs Sola Ogunleye emerged as the Best Woman in Agriculture.
Olusanya, while noting that the Year 2020 had been a special and peculiar one with the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world at large and Lagos State being the epicentre of the COVID-19 activity in Nigeria making the agricultural sector the second most impacted sector after health by the pandemic, explained that the agricultural sector deserved a lot of attention and had been getting such from the state government.
This was just as she disclosed that the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu intended to increase the attention moving forward.
“We need to understand the importance of our farmers in the scheme of things; without farmers, the Nigeria of today cannot survive.
“We know what happened during the lockdown when people thought they were not going to get access to food but yet our farmers came through for us.
“Many thanks to you our dear farmers, you stood by us by ensuring that the food supply chain was not broken at any time. It was stretched yes, but with your efforts and God’s grace, it was not broken.
“All these express the thought and sentiment behind the Farmers’ Appreciation and Award Day. Let there be no doubt in your minds concerning how appreciative this administration is when it comes to your contributions to ‘Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy.’ What we are doing today is the least we can do to appreciate you,” the commissioner said.
She, however, pointed out that the Eko City Farmers Fair was intended to be a melting pot for farmers to be able to sell directly to consumers and for Lagosians to buy farm-fresh products directly from stakeholders at farm gate prices while shopping in a relaxing atmosphere.
“We want people to be able to come here with their kids to be able to shop and for the kids to be happy as well. That is the essence of having a positive atmosphere,” Olusanya said.
Speaking further, the commissioner noted that the Year 2020 also posed its challenges to farmers in sectors such piggery, poultry and fishery, declaring that there was no better way than to start to put them on a platform where they were also recognized locally.
“Another thing is for us also to appreciate our farmers today, we realized that this year has been a very, very tough year, especially for farmers considering all they’ve been through. If I start with the piggery farmers, for instance, with the swine flu that happened, a lot of them lost their means of livelihood almost to a point of no return.
“Our poultry farmers are still under a lot of strain right now as they are not able to get poultry feed. Fish farmers are also going on through a lot of stress with the cost of fish feed. And then you have our rice farmers as well. We are trying to support and we’ll continue to support you.
“But generally speaking, our farmers have been under a lot this year, not just locally, obviously nationally as well and we felt that with the COVID- 19 pandemic and the stress on the food systems, there is no better way to show appreciation to our farmers.
“There is no better way than to start to put our farmers on a platform where they are also recognized locally. It’s been done in other climes and we need to start that from Lagos at least for this year,” the Commissioner averred.
Olusanya noted that farmers played a very important role in the economy of the country and deserved to be recognised as very key stakeholders, saying was also a form of incentive for farmers to understand their importance in the scheme of things and for people to also begin to give them the recognition.
“It’s one thing to recognise a doctor and give a doctor the respect the doctor deserves because you think the doctor can heal you. But you need to understand that a farmer is even more important than a doctor.
“If you eat properly, you will never have to go to the hospital. If you eat properly, you will never have to take drugs, the food you eat, that is the work of the farmer which is actually much more water than the drugs you think you need.
“So a farmer in the scheme of things is actually much more important than a medical doctor. A medical doctor is someone you need once in a while when you think maybe you need to do a medical checkup, for food you must consume every day. Even if you are on a fast you must eat once a day minimum.
“We need to understand those economics globally be it the Netherlands, US and even Europe as a great continent, they all started with farming and farming is still the backbone of the economy,” she added.