By; RAYMOND TEDUNJAYE, Lagos
Lagos State Government has lauded farmers for their contributions, hard work and vigour in ensuring that the food supply chain was not broken especially during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya who gave the commendation at the December edition of the Eko City Farmers’ Fair and Farmers’ Appreciation Day held at the Ndubusi Kanu Park, Alausa, Ikeja noted that their contributions were greatly recognized and appreciated.
She explained that the agricultural sector deserved a lot of attention and has been getting such from the State Government noting that the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu intends to increase the attention moving forward.
According to her, the year 2020 has been a special and peculiar one with the corona virus pandemic ravaging the world at large and Lagos State being the epicenter of the COVID-19 activity in Nigeria making the agricultural sector the second most impacted sector after health by the pandemic.
“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,” Olusanya averred.
The Commissioner pointed out that the Eko City Farmers Fair was intended to be a melting point 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.
“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 play a very important role in the economy of the country and deserved to be recognised as very key stakeholders.
“It is 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 recognize 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 medical checkup for food you must consume every day. Even if you are on a fast you must eat once a day minimum.
“So why are we not placing our farmers on a pedestal? Why are we not giving our farmers that importance? Why are we not celebrating our farmers? We are showcasing them and say farmers, you deserved a space, you deserved to be recognized.
“Why are farmers on the back burner? Why do we think farmers are rural and illiterate people, therefore they belong at the back burner?“We need to understand that 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.
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.