By Oludele Taiwo
The Commissioner for Agriculture in Lagos State, Abisola Olusanya, while receiving a report on coconut value chain analysis from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), has pledged to upgrade the development of coconut value chain in the state.
She said the report had shed light on policies and investment around the coconut value chain and that the report was aimed at formulating the investment plan necessary to upgrade the coconut value chain in the state. Olusanya noted that the 300-page report seeks to generate coconut planting awareness to ensure its sufficiency in Nigeria, create more jobs while increasing the state’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP). She said the implementation of coconut upgrading strategy, as contained in the document, would attract more than 20 times the present public and private investments.
“The creation of close to 500,000 employment opportunities and supporting their livelihood, contribute significantly to fighting the effects of climate change by curbing phenomena such as coastal erosion, among others, in the next five years”. According to her, “From the report, it is clear that more than 60 to 70 per cent of the coconut consumed in Nigeria passes through Lagos, as Lagos contributes 16 per cent to actual production, and that even imported coconuts, particularly those coming from other western countries, also lands in Lagos before it is distributed across Nigeria”.
The commissioner further stated that the synergy, between Lagos and FAO, had been mutually-beneficial, stating that the state government had been pivotal to the spread of coconut to other parts of Nigeria. She assured that a speedy implementation of the report would further change the disposition of the people towards it, thereby attracting investment opportunities into the state and making it a contributory factor in making Lagos a 21st-century economy through job and wealth creation.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Olatokunbo Emokpae also stated that the collaboration between the state government, FAO and UNIDO, through technical support under the FAO unilateral trust fund, had been pivotal to the coconut development value chain in Lagos State. “It is the belief of this administration that by unlocking the full potential of coconut, the state can benefit optimally and achieve more of its economic, environmental and health benefits embedded in it”.
FAO-UN Country Representative to Nigeria, Fred Kafeero, said that the report would form the basis for investment in the coconut value chain by both the public and private sectors. He said that it would also help to foster the upgrading strategy for the development of the proposal in the state. Kafeero, who was represented by the Head, North East Emergency Operations, AlHassan Cisse, said “The official presentation of the Coconut Value Chain Analysis report today marks the beginning of a second phase of partnership with Lagos state that will ensure sustainable food security, improved livelihood, economic development in terms of revenue generation, improving the standard of living and local economy of Lagos people through employment and wealth creation opportunities as well as the overall environmental impact in mitigating against climate change and global warming. This is such a big progress that we should all celebrate since the main objective is to make the coconut value chain in the state more feasible and cost-effective with assurance of optimum return of the government’s investment”.
He lauded the state government for promoting agriculture and specifically developing the coconut value chain to create employment opportunities for the teeming youth’s population, and in addition, make Nigeria among the top 10 coconut-producing countries in the world by 2030. “Once again, I would like to reiterate that the FAO, as a specialied agency of the United Nations with the mandate to ensure food security and nutrition, will continue to strengthening its partnership with the Lagos State Government in the development of programmes, building of capacities and facilitation of policies on all matters relating to food security and nutrition”. Also, the General Manager, Lagos State Coconut Development Authority (LASCODA), Dapo Olakulehin while speaking, said that the report would further help in the production, processing and commercialisation of coconut in the state, saying Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is highly interested in the coconut value chain.