The Lagos Government has assured residents of adequate food supply at all the 27 designated COVID-19 Emergency Food Markets.
The State Commissioner for Agriculture, Prince Gbolahan Lawal gave the assurance over the weekend while monitoring the exercise at the Sam Ethnan Air Force Base, Ikeja; Opebi Primary School and Ogudu Nursery and Primary School, Ojota.
He explained that the emergency markets were created to cushion the effects of the two weeks lock down directed by the Federal Government to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
The Commissioner noted that more farmers would be deployed to the various markets at the next market day on Thursday in order 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 the various emergency markets during the lock down at the next market day but however stressed the need for shoppers to comply with the social distancing as well as observe the personal hygiene rules while shopping.
He said the State Government would support the farmers with logistics to enable them mobilise their farm produce to the various designated emergency markets in the State.
The Commissioner explained that the State Government would scale-up the number of the markets base on demands from the different communities adding that the markets were part of the palliative measures adopted by government.
He said the State Government and farmers would not take advantage of the situation to exploit the residents of the state adding that items are being sold at farm gate prices.
“We underestimated the population here 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 the youths in the base.
“We want to give them agricultural skill set through the ongoing state government agriprenuership programme.
“Aside from this market, we will also partner on the training of the youth 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 said the COVID-19 emergency food market was setup to as a palliative measure to cushion the effect of the pandemic.
“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.
Speaking earlier, the Air Officer Commanding, Logistics Command, Nigerian Air Force, Ikeja, Air Vice Marshal 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 shop for their daily needs during the lock down.
He said the base had already conformed to the lock down, adding that nobody was allowed to come into or outside the base.
“For us, we have already conformed to the lock down directive given by President Muhammadu Buhari. That means that this base that has population of about 6,000, nobody goes out and nobody comes in.
“We have a hospital here which carters for the medical needs of our personnel and 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 market by the Lagos State Government is very welcome.
“We thanked the government immensely for it because you can see by the numbers, if you go round. People have been here since about 10:00am and are still trooping 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 stock 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 lock down,” he said.
Alao urged the government to deploy more farmers to the market in order to cater for the food demands of the population in the base.
“This we are very appreciative of the state government. 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.