Lagos State Government has expressed its readiness to upgrade the Songhai Model Farm in Badagry in order to boost the Agro-Tourism and food security drive in the State.
The State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, while inspecting the project, said government would come up with strategies and policies to transform the farm and put it to optimal use.
Governor Ambode said that the reason for inspecting the project was first to appreciate the level of investment already committed to the farm by government and then find out how to scale it up where necessary.
He assured that the Government would explore the possibility of using the farm to train students of Agriculture in tertiary institutions to give them practical knowledge.
According to him, the idea behind the project must be well projected with the view to ensure viability of the farm.
“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, this year.
Project in retrospect
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Shakirudeen Olayiwola, while briefing the Governor, traced the history of the farm project to the year 2012.
Dr Olayiwola hinted that it was copied from the Songhai model of farming which were mainly organic agriculture, zero waste agriculture and training.
Dr. Olayiwola said a lot of Nigerians used to 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.
“We have a training centre, a demonstration centre and also a centre for Agro Tourism; here, we 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 training in the area of agriculture and students of tertiary institutions, we are also bringing some of the old crops that have almost gone into extinction,” he said.
The project, which is sitting on an expansive 167 hectares of land in the border-town between Nigeria and Benin Republic, was copied from Songhai in the francophone nation of Benin Republic.
The model was then used to develop the Agric-Yes (Youth Empowerment Scheme) initiative of the Lagos state Ministry of Agriculture.