Mr Agboola Dabiri, a former Commissioner for Youth and Social Development in Lagos State, has urged residents of the state to embrace urban farming.
Dabiri said this at an agriculture empowerment programme organised by members of Ajowa Community Development Association in Surulere area of Lagos state, in collaboration with Africanfarmer Mogaji, on Sunday in Lagos.
According to him, embracing urban farming will increase and better their livelihood.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the empowerment programme is titled: “Farm and Profit”.
In his lecture titled, “Global Farming without Boundaries”, Dabiri said that residents must begin to create space for farming in homes, balconies, compounds and garages.
The ex-commissioner noted that he started agribusiness as a young boy in the university because of his passion for food production and business.
He added that agriculture was a huge value chain that included production, processing, marketing, distribution, packaging and many more.
Dabiri urged the residents to develop a passion in any of the value chains to better their lots.
According to him, agriculture has so many areas that they can explore, adding that they can grow vegetables, tubers and also rear animals.
”I don’t know the last time I bought lemon in Abuja. What I did was, I planted seeds in an old sack and that is what I have been using in my home.
“In Masha, here in Surulere, we have the biggest fruit farmers in Lagos. They are very organised and you can also join them by simply identifying where you belong.
“Also, in Surulere, we have one of the largest ram market and I am a member, because I also rear animals.
“You have to look at where you belong and explore all the potential in agriculture. During the last Ileya festival, I sold rams and I made profits, you too can do that. Agric is very profitable.
“I buy my ram myself; rear it my self and give it to my boys to sell during festival. I have already started rearing ram against next festival.
“Residents of Surulere must come together and see how they can promote urban farming and contribute to the food self-sufficiency of the state,” he said.
Dabiri advised the community development association and the local government council to start a Sunday market in Surulere, for residents to purchase farm produce at cheaper and affordable prices, as well as create a market platform for farmers.
He commended the Chairman of Ajowa CDA, Mr Tunji Adebayo, for organising empowerment programmes for members of his association.
According to him, empowering the community is a lasting legacy that will outlive anybody.
“For you as individual in the CDA or community, you have to think outside the box on how you can improve your life by leveraging agriculture.
“There is little that government can do, you must look at how to balance it. We all must try and start farming in bags or plastic containers. You can plant yams, vegetables, tomatoes, pepper and plantain.
“As great as America is, a lot of its citizens own private farms and gardens. They do that so that they can also contribute to food production and we can do that here too,” he said.
Also speaking, Mr Africanfarmer Mogaji urged the people at the local government level to embrace agriculture in order to feed the nation.
Mogaji, in his presentation titled ‘Farm and Profit’, urged people in the urban area to embrace agriculture by way of processing, marketing, distribution, packaging, haulaging and production.
He said that majority of people in the South-West zone were consumers of agricultural produce and not generating enough income from agriculture, because of lack of understanding.
“There are a lot of opportunities in agriculture that remain untapped and people need to look beyond farming,” he said.
According to him, President Bola Tinubu’s declaration of food emergency is an opportunity for many agribusiness to thrive because a lot of policies will be introduced that will be beneficial to farmers.
“Partnerships and collaborations is the new agribusiness that farmers must embrace.
“Enough of criticising the government. It is time to collaborate with government to achieve great things and improve food production.
“Opportunities are enormous but farmers must know how to get it, people need to know how to tap into every government policy,” he said.
Mogaji explained that the whole essence was to embrace grassroots farming as the new norm.
“It is almost 10 years that I have been reaching out to the CDA and this is a new executive and we are continuing.
“We need to begin to groom people from grassroots into agriculture. If local government embraces agriculture, we will feed the nation.
“They own lands; they have the people; what we need is resources. Surulere is a major area that we can leverage to distribute farm produce.
“The people farm in their rural and suburbs and we have the local government to expose these to their people,” he explained.
He, therefore, urged the Federal Government to allocate land to local governments for farming, to make them fully committed to food sustainability and self-sufficiency.
In his remarks, Mr Suleimon Bamidele, Chairman, Surulere Local Government Area, lauded the CDA and the council’s support for continuation of the programme.
Bamidele, who was represented by Mr Abayomi Ambali, Senior Special Adviser to the Chairman on Agriculture, noted that the council would continue to promote and support agricultural policies.
Adebayo, Chairman, Ajuwo CDA, said that the objective of the programme was to impact on the lives of members of the association who required employability and soft skills.
“This is the first of its kind and there are many more programmes to come, to help our people become self-reliant.
“We decided to go into agric because people need to eat and also make money and we saw the need to help our members.
“I urge the local and state government to do more for the people by empowering them, and keep the youth away from crime and drugs,” Adebayo said. (NAN)
Source: News Agency of Nigeria