Lagos State Government has identified some key agriculture value chains it hopes to leverage to achieve food sufficiency for the residents of the state as power again occupies the front burner at the seventh edition of the biennial Lagos Economic Summit, popularly called Ehingbeti.
Speaking on how the state government intends to harness power for the development of the agriculture sector, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Cooperatives, Prince Gbolahan Lawal, said the agriculture value chains being focused are poultry, rice production, cassava cultivation, aquaculture, vegetable, post-harvest as well as abattoir and lairage.
Speaking on the theme of this year summit, “Powering the Lagos Economy: Real Opportunities, Endless Possibilities” which takes place at the Eko Hotel and Suites from April 8 to10, the commissioner said like every other sector of the Nigerian economy, inadequacy of electric power has impacted negatively on the agriculture value chains; a development he noted was a threat to food sufficiency in the country as well as the African continent as a whole.
The commissioner said for instance, absence of or inadequate power supply has been a major setback for farmers who engage in hatchery production, poultry processing, layer birds and broiler production as a result of high mortality of birds, increase in the cost of production and feed as well as post processing loss.
He stated, however, that by attracting investors into the power sector of the state economy, the state government was poised to reverse the ugly trend. ‘‘Electricity is very crucial in the hatchery sub sector of the poultry industry in Lagos State. It will reduce the cost of production of day-old chicks by about 50% which will invariably reduce the cost of producing broilers, cockerel as a result of economies of scale due to expansion of operations. The attendant market prices of these products will also reduce substantially’’, he declared.
Lawal further said that with improved power, there would be significant increase in capacity utilization and output, revealing that the state poultry facilities alone were expected to increase by 30% in the first year and over 75% in the third year aside the multiplier effect on farmers in the private sector.
According to him, operations like feather plucking, digital scale weighing, chilling and cooling were 100% dependent on electricity but inadequate power has made most processing facilities in the state to be operating at less than 15% capacity due to high cost of diesel.
On rice cultivation which requires irrigation, he informed that the high cost of powering irrigation facilities with generating sets has adversely affected the cost of production and milling thereby resulting in high cost of locally-produced rice in the market.
He said the availability of power would not only enhance rice production twice in the year, it would also result in almost 100% yield and a further increase in production from the present two to three metric tonnes per hectare to between four and five metric tonnes per hectare in the first year of intervention.
In the same vein, the commissioner added that electricity was a key factor for rice parboiling, drying, de-stoning, milling, processing and packaging, hence adequate power was capable of guaranteeing all-year availability of quality locally-produced rice. ‘‘It will trigger the cultivation of rice from the present figure of about 1000 Ha to over 3000 Ha in the next few years of intervention. More jobs will be also created’’, he stressed.
For the cassava value chain, Lawal maintained that improved electricity would impact on the processing of cassava to flour, starch and other by-products, enhance further production of cassava to meet high demands as well as engender sustainable Industrial growth especially for secondary uptakers.
Speaking further on other segments, he pointed out that electricity which is a key requirement in aquaculture, would make it possible for good flow and regular change of water and sorting, thereby reducing the incidence of disease outbreak in fish production by as much as 45%. He said it will also improve productivity by about 20% while drastically reducing the overhead cost in fish production.
He also said stable power was required for the drip irrigation and fertilization of vegetables and to ensure full automation of the Greenhouse, thereby increasing vegetable cultivation up to 250 to 350 tonnes per hectare.
While an estimated 60% of harvested vegetables was said to be lost due to spoilage, the commissioner explained that regular electricity supply would lead to the establishment of conditioning centers as well as on-farm processing that will reduce post-harvest losses up to 5%.
He said similarly, adequate electricity would enhance the efficiency of the fully automated slaughter line in the state, thus ensuring the availability of more hygienic and wholesome meat for Lagosians.
‘‘It has been projected that human population will reach 9 billion people in the world by 2050. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated an increase of 70% in food production from 2005 levels to meet the food requirement of the growing population. To achieve this, there is need to grow, harvest, distribute, and consume food more efficiently. Our growing population is becoming increasingly urban: the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 7 out of 10 people will live in the cities by 2050. We’re not gaining additional resources like land or water and the extreme lack of or extremely low electric power input and innovative technology will hinder the attainment of this goal’’, Lawal submitted.