Lockdown: Lagos State assures residents of adequate food supply

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From left, Ms Abisola Olusanya, Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Agriculture; Mr Gbolahan Lawal, Commissioner for Agriculture; AVM Lawal Alao, Air Officer Commanding, Logistics Command, Nigerian Air Force Base, Ikeja; Air Commodore Rasaq Olarenwaju, Base Commander and Dr Olayiwole Onasanya, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture during the monitoring exercise at Sam Ethnan Air Force Base, Ikeja.

The Lagos State Government on Sunday assured residents of adequate food supply in all the 27 designated COVID-19 Temporary Emergency Food Markets at farm gate prices.

The State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Gbolahan Lawal, gave the assurance while monitoring the exercise at the Sam Ethnan Air Force Base, Ikeja, Opebi Primary School, Ikeja and Ogudu Nursery and Primary School, Ojota.

Lawal explained that the temporary emergency markets were created to cushion the effects of 14 days lockdown directive by the Federal Government to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

The commissioner said that more farmers would be deployed to the various markets at the next market day on April 9 to ensure enough supply of farm produce and perishables to meet the demands of shoppers.

He added that the state government was collaborating with all relevant stakeholders to ensure adequate food supply at  various emergency markets during the lockdown by the next market day.

The commissioner, however, stressed the need for shoppers to comply with the social distancing  as well as observe the personal hygiene rules while shopping.

“We have seen the huge turnout in some of the markets and the demand for more farm produce.

“We will improve on it and bring in more farmers so as to ensure adequate food supply at affordable and competitive prices.

“We will continue to provide all necessary logistics to our farmers as well as increase the number of markets in the days ahead,” he said.

Lawal said the state government would support  farmers with logistics to enable them to mobilise their farm produce to various designated emergency markets easily and faster.

He also said the state government would scale-up the number of  markets, based on demands from different communities, adding that the markets were part of the palliative measures adopted by the government.

The commissioner said the state government and farmers would not take advantage of the situation to exploit residents of the state,  adding that items were being sold at the farm gate prices.

“We underestimated the population here at the base, and we promise to improve on it in the coming days.

“This is a very good opportunity for our farmers and considering the situation that we are in, the COVID-19 pandemic to sell their produce at affordable prices.

“We want to assure the Nigerian Air Force base of whatever they may also need, because we are in discussion on how we can improve the skill set of some of youths in the base.

“We want to give them agricultural skills through the ongoing state government agripreneurship programme.

“Aside from this market, we will also partner on the training of youths within the barrack.

“The base, I am told, has a population of about 20,000; this is a good opportunity for us and we hope to have good partnership between the state government and the base,” Lawal.

He said the COVID-19 emergency food market was set up to as a palliative measure to cushion the effect of the pandemic.

The commissioner said: “The Eko City farmers’ market and the makeshift farmers market are food markets that we have introduced.

“What we promised the citizenry is every other day but considering the logistics, we have shifted it to every three days in all the designated makeshift markets in the state.”

Earlier, the Air Officer Commanding, Logistics Command, Nigerian Air Force, Ikeja, AVM Lawal Alao, commended the state government for setting up a COVID-19 emergency food market in the base.

Alao said the gesture would go a long way in helping the over 16,000 residents shops for their daily needs during the lockdown period.

He said the base had already conformed to the lockdown, adding that nobody was allowed to come into or outside the base.

“For us, we have already conformed to the lockdown directive given by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“That means in this base that has population of about 16,000, nobody goes out and nobody comes in.

“We have a hospital here which carters for the medical needs of our personnel.

“We have a functional mammy market and we have restricted them to selling only food items and pharmaceutical products to compliment what we have in the hospital.

“This gesture of the farmers’ markets by the Lagos State Government is very welcome.

“We thank the government immensely for it, because you can see by the numbers, if you go round. People have been here since about 10:00a.m and are still trooping in to buy produce.

“They are buying things like tomatoes, onions, pepper, fish, eggs and many more to meet home supply.

“We expect that those who stocked up their houses with some perishable items in the past three to four days would have used them up or the produce must have already gone bad.

“So, this market will meet the demands of people during this  period of lockdown,” he said.

Alao urged the state government to deploy more farmers to the market in order to cater for the food demands of the population in the base.

“We are very appreciative of the state government, and we hope that subsequently, they will come out with more items, maybe they underestimated the population here.

“I believe that today is the first day, this is like a test run, the population was underestimated. So far, we are very appreciative of the gesture,” he said. (NAN)

– Apr. 5, 2020 @ 17:35 GMT |

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