The Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Prince Gbolahan Lawal on Sunday expressed the readiness and determination of the state government to complete all abandoned projects in the agricultural sector, including the Songhai project.
Lawal made the disclosure on Sunday when he led a delegation of the state government’s officials that included the Special Adviser to the Governor on Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, to inspect the Songhai project facility.
The Commissioner said particularly that the Songhai Model of the Agricultural Youth Empowerment Scheme (Agric Yes) located in Avia-Igborosun in the Badagry Local Government Area of Lagos State would be completed.
He noted that the Songhai Model of the Youth Empowerment Scheme is one of the major empowerment programmes in the agricultural sector for youths being implemented by the state government.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Songhai Project commenced activities in 2012.
The Lagos state government signed an MOU with the Songhai Regional Centre, Porto Novo, Benin Republic, but was abandoned within the last four years.
The project has infrastructure such as Poultry Pens, Piggery Pens, Concrete Fish Ponds, Green House, Dormitories, Classrooms, Restaurants, Staff quarters and administration building as well as a Biogas Plant.
He said upon assumption of office in July, he commissioned the development of a roadmap with the theme, “A Sustainable Inclusive Growth Strategy with the Citizens at the Core’’.
He added that one of the outcomes of that road map was the need to empower no fewer than 15,000 youths and women within the next four years in line with the roadmap.
He recalled that the Songhai model was a product of a collaboration between the State Government and the Songhai Regional Centre, Porto Novo, Benin Republic.
“The programme is geared towards encouraging organic farming and using simple biological methods to enhance production outputs.
“The model is based on new approaches and farming systems that rely heavily on the combined inputs from local experiences, indigenous technology, business communities and research institutions.
“The result is a robust, zero waste, integrated agro-allied model promoting rural growth through training, technology adaptation and strong business and commercialisation strategy,” Lawal said.
The commissioner pointed out that the objectives of the model include the need to train and create employment for youths, therefore providing improved livelihood for the unemployed youths and reduce rural-urban migration of youths.
“It will provide food in sufficient quantities to a population that is increasingly demanding in terms of quality and diversity and production that delivers sufficient quantities of safe whole-some food items that assist in disease prevention, healthy living and healthy aging.
“Some of the objectives of the model are to reduce dependency on other states to supply the food and fibre to be consumed by Lagosians and to provide competitive inputs/raw materials for the Agro-Industry,” he said.
“Others are to complement the productivity of the ageing farmers which could not sustain or move the state to a comfortable level of self-sufficiency in food production.
“The rest include to provide feed stock for renewable energy supply as it would be designed to become an energy source instead of an energy sink.
“To provide new environmental products and services- carbon sequestration, Agro-Forestry, Biodiversity, native seeds and germ plasma, medical plants,” he said.
The commissioner said the entrepreneurial thinking associated with the Songhai project would help farmers to explore many of the state’s under-developed and under-sold agricultural sector products.
He stressed that the Songhai project was in tandem with the THEMES developmental agenda of making Lagos a 21st century economy as it is about reducing bio waste.
According to him, it is also about using renewable resources to generate power and using modern technologies to drive agricultural development and creating employment.
“The Songha Model would promote a responsible farming system which supports the transfer of new technologies and access to markets .
“The project will also encourage farmers to become fully self-sufficient in energy by using sustainable resources,’’ the Commissioner added.