The Lagos State Government and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO-UN), have signed a 200,000 dollars Unilateral Trust Fund Agreement (UTF), for the development of the coconut value chain in the state.
The State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya signed the agreement on behalf of the state government, while the Country Representative of FAO, Dr Fred Kafeero signed for FAO on Friday in Lagos.
Ms Olusanya said that the project which would run for the next six months with FAO providing technical and financial assistance for the Inception / Value Chain Analysis Phase of the intervention.
Speaking during the official signing of the agreement, Olusanya described it as an epoch-making ceremony.
She said that the significance of the event cannot be overemphasised as it underscores the commitment of the administration of Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu in restoring the pre-eminence of coconut as the foremost cash crop in the state.
She noted that this is evident in the prominence given to the crop in the official crest of the state, as it serves as pillars of support and protection for the other contents of the state’s crest.
“It is, therefore, my fervent hope that the partnership we are activating today will surely unleash the economic, environmental and nutritional potentials in the coconut value chain in the state.
“The partnership will be on a sustainable basis as multiple strategies both locally and internationally along the up, mid and down streams of the value chain will be deployed to promote production, processing, utilisation and commercialisation.
“This will be done using the Accelerator for Agriculture and Agro-industry Development and Innovation Plus (3ADI+) Approach as proposed by the FAO-UN.
The Commissioner also noted that FAO-UN is already networking with other international donor agencies with interest in environment, food security and agro-industry such as United Nations for Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) for the implementation of the next phase of the intervention.
She added that they would be bringing in expertise and funds to fully unleash the potentials of the coconut sub-sector of agriculture in Lagos state.
“Recall that Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu launched a 5-Year Agricultural Road Map in which the investment opportunities in the coconut value chain were eloquently elucidated.
“The document proposes to have 10 million productive coconut trees within the next five years with a projection of over 800,000,000 husked nuts with the potential economic value of over N120 billion, which could be tripled to a tune of N360 billion worth of transactional volume with value addition.
“This will further ensure that Lagos state contributes significantly to making Nigeria among the top 10 World coconut producing countries, thus moving up from its present 19th position,” she noted.
In his remarks, Dr Kafeero commended the Lagos state government for being the first state to create a unilateral trust fund in the country adding that it has set an example for other state to follow.
He said that FAO was committed to working with the Lagos state government for the development of the value chain adding that it had agreed to provide technical assistance as well as carry the state government along.
He said that FAO would expose the state to what is happening in other countries with regards to coconut and then discover the area that fits where its want to be as a state.
“We saw that we have a comprehensive picture of the situation currently and then being able to develop a strategy that will take us to where we want to go in the next 10 years which we already know.
“The inception phase which is largely for backlogs- collecting information about the value chain, looking at production gaps, deficiencies in the processing part of things, looking at the technologies currently used, the involvement of stakeholders, market issues.
“For this phase we are talking about, the FAO has agreed to provide technical assistance, carry the state government along, get you the experts that you need.
“We will expose you to what is happening in other countries with regards to coconut and then discover the area that fits where we want to be as Lagos,” he said.
Dr Kafeero said that a strategy would be developed at the end the inception project.
“We believe that in the next six months, we should have developed a strategy; not only that but after the validation of the strategy and its approval.
“Then we go ahead on the implementation plan over the period and that plan will be costed to help us also to use that particular document to have roundtable discussions with potential financiers.
“Going forward, we shall have more investors but I see the role of the government in terms of engaging would-be-investors and I see that public-private partnerships would be very tremendous for this project” he said