By Olayinka Olawale
Lagos – Mr Gbolahan Lawal, the Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, has urged farmers particularly the youth farmers to embrace agriculture as a business to transform it from subsistence to commercial for profitability.
Lawal made the call at the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund Summit 2020 in Lagos.
He said that several opportunities abound in agriculture because each agricultural enterprises had various value chains, which if properly explored, would present great opportunities that were income yielding “and very viable’’.
He said that the critical role of agriculture was to create jobs, adding that for the purpose of food sufficiency and sustainability, the role of agriculture could not be over emphasised.
Lawal noted that although agriculture had the potential of generating streams of jobs in the state if adequately harnessed, many people, especially youths were not exploring the opportunities in the agricultural sector.
He advocated for the revival of agriculture as part of measures to generate jobs on a sustainable basis.
He said that opportunities opened to an agripreneur in the renewed drive toward making agriculture a revenue spinner and employment generating medium for the youths of Lagos state and the nation at large were endless.
He appealed to youths to take advantage of the potential in agriculture as there was a shift in focus from oil as the major revenue generator.
“Agriculture, whether livestock, aquaculture or crops, remains a veritable way of escape for us; unfortunately, this is being currently sufficiently untapped.
“For the purpose of sustainability, the role of agriculture cannot be over- emphasised.
“The current statistics of local food production in Lagos, with a population of over 22 million, stands at 18 per cent of the food demand.
“This translates to the fact that over 80 per cent of the food needs of Lagosians are provided for from outside the state,” he said.
Lawal said that the gap, therefore, presents a window of opportunities which, if properly harnessed, could be a goldmine for the teeming youths and other players in the agricultural sphere.
“Strategically, the efforts of the Ministry of Agriculture are geared toward areas of livestock, fisheries, rice and vegetable production where the state has comparative and competitive advantage with diverse investment opportunities and emphasis on value addition.
“These opportunities can be accessed by discerning investors by keying into numerous government programmes that are deliberately created to facilitate profitable agricultural investments,” the commissioner said.
Lawal, however, conceded that government must lead the way by making farming attractive to young people through the provision of modern agricultural inputs, equipment, training and other relevant infrastructure.
He said this explained why the state government embarked on empowerment programmes such as Lagos Agripreneurship Programme (LAP) and Lagos State Agricultural Youth Empowerment Scheme (Agric- YES).
He stressed that this was to train mostly youths and women to become major stakeholders in the agricultural sector.
The commissioner, therefore, urged all major players in each of the agriculture value chains to encourage the present teeming population of youths to embrace agriculture and explore the various opportunities available therein.