*Project to boost state agro tourism, food security drive
By Adeyemi Robinson-Adefioye, Lagos
Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode at the weekend expressed the readiness of his administration to upgrade the Songhai Model Farm in Avia-Igborosun, Badagry, with a pledge to transform the project and use it to boost the Agro Tourism and food security drive of the State Government.
The project, which is sitting on a massive 167 hectares of land with additional available land for other projects, was copied from Songhai in Republic of Benin under the Agric-Yes initiative of the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture.
Speaking during inspection of the project alongside top government officials, Governor Ambode said government will come up with strategies and policies to upgrade the farm and put it to optimal use with the view to keying it into the efforts of government to enhance food security, among other drives.
While briefing the Governor on the project, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agric, Dr Shakirudeen Olayiwola said the farm started in 2012 and it was copied from the Songhai model of farming which mainly are organic agriculture, zero waste agriculture and training.
Olayiwola said a lot of Nigerians usually go to Songhai for training, and that the development was one of the reasons why the State Government decided to establish one in Badagry to train Nigerians on modern techniques of farming.
He said: “We have a training centre, a demonstration centre and also a centre for Agro Tourism. “Here, we have been able to have a lot of facilities and our target is mostly existing famers who want more knowledge in the area of agriculture as well as youths who want to train in the area of agriculture and students of tertiary institutions. We are also bringing some of the old extinct crops.”
Responding, Governor Ambode said the reason for inspecting the project was first to appreciate the level of investment already committed to the farm by government and then see how to scale it up where necessary.
He assured that the State Government would explore the possibility of using the farm to train students of Agric in the tertiary institutions in the State to give them practical knowledge, adding that the idea behind the project must be well projected with the view to ensure viability of the farm.
He said: “If we have Department of Agriculture in our Polytechnic or our University, nothing is stopping us from linking their curriculum with this project so that there will be that interface between the young ones that we want to produce and there is nothing stopping the Ministry of Agric also from introducing some kind of Diploma programmes or a certificated course for farmers which we will now project nationally and then make this place to run year round.
“We want to upgrade and scale up this project where necessary and key it into our Agro Tourism drive and effort to ensure food security for our people,” Governor Ambode said.
The Governor also directed the Ministries of Agriculture and Education to work together and see how to put the project to practical use and project it nationally commencing from 2017.