Lagos State Government says it will establish a processing center for the fisheries and aquaculture sector in order to off take the produce from registered farm clusters and fish farm Estates to help set profit margins for the farmers.
The State Acting Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya who made this known at the Quarterly Forum for Fish and Crop Farmers organised by the Lagos State Agricultural Inputs Supply Authority (LAISA) at the Odogunyan Fish Farm Estate, Ikorodu explained that this was necessary because the State had realized that a lot of the fish farmers had the problem of market and sales.
Olusanya stated that Lagos is striving to be a value addition State especially for agricultural products which would translate to food sufficiency, food security, increased Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and subsequently provide more profit and improved livelihood for farmers.
“Lagos is tirelessly working on being a value addition State for agricultural products. It should be a processing State, which is why it is imperative that we set up a large processing facility for the fisheries and aquaculture sector such that what we have to do is to mop up offtake from farm clusters such as this Fish Farm Estate here at a pegged price so that the farmers can have a price point at which they will be selling.
“By that, there will be a guaranteed profit margin that they can begin to enjoy and for that reason, they would be able to increase production, since they are sure of an off taker,” She asserted.
According to her, there were quite a number of small clusters of smallholder farmers in the fisheries and aquaculture sector stressing that because of lack of clarity around the margins that they could make, their productivity level has always remained low.
She added that based on the price that they would have to sell, the State Government has decided that it was a critical component to put a processing approach to it in order to alleviate poverty among the farmers.
Olusanya explained that the Processing Center, which would be on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) and has the capacity to process not less than 20,000 metric tones of fish that would be exported out of the Country, was ongoing and would be kick-started this year.
“This arrangement is on a Public Private Partnership (PPP). The idea is for this one facility alone to be able to process at least nothing less than 20,000 metric tons of fish and after processing, this fish can be sent to other states in Nigeria or it can also be exported.
“In Lagos, we only look at a maximum of two species of fish which are catfish and tilapia. The idea is to also introduce other species like pangasius, carp, barramundi and others such that we begin to have more species of fish at higher price points.
“Then the farmers can enjoy this profit margin that will be coming to them. That is actually the idea around this processing facility that we have planned and for the facility to be able to offtake from small clusters,” the Acting Commissioner averred.
Olusanya disclosed that the developmental objectives for the Agricultural Sector extended beyond providing market access for farmers adding that it also include capacity building and empowerment which the State was currently carrying out under the Agro Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project (APPEALS), the Lagos Agripreneurship Programme (LAP) and the Lagos State Farm Service Center at Oko-Oba where executive programmes were being organized for farmers and would-be farmers.
According to her, some of the best students who took part in the Lagos Agripreneurship Program earlier this year have since been empowered with facilities built for them, while some others have been given inputs to enable them start their own businesses in the Agric space.
She explained that with the APPEALS project, over 6,000 people have been trained and under the Women and Youth Scheme, over 1,300 people have undergone training in the various agricultural value chains all in a bid towards ensuring that food sustainability and security is top of the line in Lagos.