Lagos State Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) Project has charged farmers and investors to invest in agriculture, especially mass production of Ofada rice in the state.
Speaking during a visit to rice farmers supported by the APPEALS Project in Epe and Lekki areas, the state Coordinator of APPEALS, Mrs. Oluranti Sagoe-Oviebo, said the Project, sponsored by Lagos State government in conjunction with the Federal Government and the World Bank is supporting and building farmers’ productivity in rice value chain with technology for food security.
She said since inception, Lagos APPEALS Project has supported 20 clusters of Ofada rice farmers with modern technology and necessary supports to improve farming, noting that a cluster comprise about five to 10 groups of 10 individual farmers.
Sagoe-Oviebo who was accompanied by her top officials during a visit to beneficiaries of the Project Rice Seed Outgrower Scheme at Origanringan, Epe and Okegelu in Lekki areas of the state, said the Project has supported rice farmers with modern technology to increase mass production of pure strain of Ofada Rice for consumption in Nigeria and export to foreign countries.
She said Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has keen interest in agriculture and that was why the state government is fully supporting APPEALS Project to empower farmers, especially youths and women with necessary technology for productivity, improved livelihood and food security.
“Lagos APPEALS Project wants to increase the productivity of rice farmers in Lagos State. We want to ensure that Ofada rice gets to foreign countries.
“Our rice is better than foreign rice. It is more nutritious than the imported rice. So, I want to implore farmers to invest more in farming activities, especially in the rice value chain.
“We are using this opportunity to call on investors and entrepreneurs to invest in agriculture for food security.
“If there is no food, there is no guarantee that there would be security in the state or in any country. So, it is high time investors came on board and invest in agriculture. The gap of food demand cannot be overemphasised,” she said.
Also speaking, a rice seed expert from African Rice Center, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr. Abraham Shaibu, said the Center has supported farmers in Lagos to produce good quality Ofada rice by assisting them with technology to improve their productivity.
He said African Rice has identified and produced pure strain of Ofada rice seed with high yield, which has been successfully cultivated by the Lagos APPEALS Project outgrower and a willing off-taker is available to take it up and sell to rice producer.
Speaking during the visits to their farms, representatives of different clusters expressed gratitude to Governor Sanwo-Olu’s administration and Lagos APPEALS Project for having the interest of farmers at heart by investing and empowering them with quality Ofada rice strain as well as providing necessary supports and technology to improve their productivity.
A rice farmer at Origanringan in Epe, Mr. Segun Omotayo, who has been in rice farming business for close to 20 years, said the assistance provided by Lagos APPEALS Project has helped to increase their productivity from about 1.5 tonnes to three tonnes per hectare based on rice seeds given to them by the Project.