Lagos State Government and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO-UN) have signed a 200,000 dollars Unilateral Trust Fund Agreement (UTF) for development of coconut value chain.
Lagos 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.
The event took place on Friday in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Lagos State Government is contributing 150,000 dollars while FAO is supporting with 50,000 dollars for the project.
Olusanya said at the ceremony that the project would run for the next six months, with FAO providing technical and financial assistance for the inception/value chain analysis phase of the intervention.
Olusanya described the agreement signing as epoch-making.
She said that the significance of the event could not be overemphasised as it underscored 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 the commitment was evident in the prominence given to the crop in the official crest of the state, as it served 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 potential 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.
“On behalf of the governor and good people of Lagos State, I warmly express our appreciation to the FAO-UN for its interest in Lagos State and in coconut value chain development in particular,” she said.
The official said that the FAO-UN’s interest had been demonstrated in the provision of technical and financial assistance for the inception/value chain analysis phase of the intervention.
She noted that FAO-UN was networking with other international donor-agencies with interest in environment, food security and agro-industry such as United Nations for Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) for the implementation of the next phase of the intervention.
She said that they would bring expertise and funds to fully unleash the potential of the coconut sub-sector of agriculture in Lagos State.
“Recall that Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu launched a Five-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 million husked nuts with 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 said.
In his remarks, Kafeero commended Lagos for being the first state to create a unilateral trust fund in the country, saying that it had set an example for other states.
He said that FAO was committed to working with Lagos State Government for the development of the value chain, adding that it had agreed to provide technical assistance.
He said that FAO would expose the state to happenings in other countries with regard to coconut.
“We saw that we have a comprehensive picture of the situation; we have to develop a strategy that will take us to where we want to go in the next 10 years.
“To do that, we need current information for us to plan better.
“The inception phase is largely for backlogs – collecting information about the value chain, looking at production gaps, deficiencies in the processing, the technologies currently used, 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 experts that you need.
“We will expose you to what is happening in other countries with regard to coconut and then discover the area that fits where we want to be as Lagos,” he said.
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.
“Then we go ahead with 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.
“I need to say here also that besides FAO, we have colleagues from UNIDO, another UN entity, which mandate is largely on agro-processing and technologies of that nature, market access, etc, and they agreed to work with us so that together, we can support this coconut value chain.
“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 added.