Lagos State Government has intensified collaboration with the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) on modernisation of coconut value-chain.
This Government last week organised a Project Launch Workshop for the Inception Phase on the Development of Coconut Value Chain.
It came under the Accelerator for Agriculture and Agroindustry Development and Innovation Plus (3ADI+).
The reports had it that 3ADI+ goal is to have an agriculture sector in Africa which is made up of highly productive and profitable agriculture value chain that effectively link small and medium-size agricultural producers to markets.
No fewer than 60 people, including farmers, coconut growers, researchers, processors, producers, marketers and financial institutions, participated in the workshop.
In her keynote address, Ms Abisola Olusanya, Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, said that the state had started producing coconut ‘garri’ on commercial scale at its Food Production Centre.
Olusanya said that the potential within the coconut value chain alone could create millions of jobs, income opportunities and wealth, if properly harnessed.
She said that the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration believed that by unlocking the full potential of coconut, the state could benefit optimally from the economic, environmental and health benefits of its value chain.
Olusanya said that the belief informed the State Government’s decision to seek collaboration with FAO for the development of the coconut value chain.
“Some of the efforts, since the inception of this administration, in coconut value chain, include production of over 500,000 seedlings which have been distributed to farmers for plantation, establishment and rehabilitation of old and non-productive coconut trees.
“Considering the environmental and ornamental importance of the value chain, LASCODA successfully partnered with the Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency and has been incorporated into the yearly Tree Planting Day since 2019.
“So far, more than 214,000 coconut seedlings have been produced and used for this purpose.
“In efforts to properly bring coconut into the food chain system of the state, the Eko Coconut Bread Initiative was created to improve the dietary values of bread by fortifying it with coconut to improve the health and well-being of the people.
“This initiative has so far empowered over 1,000 youths and women as well as provided support to 10 bakeries with inputs such as coconuts, production cylinders, kiosks, banners, tricycles etc. across the state,” she said.
Olusanya said that for Lagos State, coconut was the main cash crop.
“You might look at coconut that it is just one crop but the potential within the space alone can create millions of jobs, it can create wonderful opportunities, income opportunities, wealth and many more.
“I think people always want to downplay the importance of some of these things especially the agricultural sector. That is why we are here today.
“We must preserve our coconut, it is one of the heritage of Lagos, and we must begin to do everything we can to ensure that coconut does not die off in the state,” she said.
In his goodwill message, Mr Jean Bankole, Regional Director, UNIDO Regional Office Hub, reiterated the organisation’s availability to work in collaboration with FAO to provide technical support in the development of the coconut in Lagos.
Bankole said that agricultural sector in most sub-Saharan African countries, including Nigeria, was largely a subsistent sector and characterised by inefficiency, high risk, low productivity and very little diversification.
Mr Abubakar Suleiman, Assistant FAO Representative in Nigeria (Programme), assured the State Government that FAO would continue to provide technical assistance to the State.
Suleiman praised the State Government for efforts to promote production, processing, commercilisation and utilisation of coconut.
He also hailed the government for creating employment opportunities for the youth.