Lagos, Netherlands’ horticultural project to lessen food insecurity
Netherlands Consulate-General in Lagos, Michel Deelen Nigeria, has said the horticultural project between Lagos and Netherlands, which aims to use vertical farming system to lessen food insecurity and stimulate economic growth, is on course.
The diplomat, who spoke with The Nation on the sidelines of the new year reception in Lagos, said the Mission was still working with the Lagos State government on the green port project, which is intended to bring advanced Netherland vertical technology that enables the growth of produce in a controlled and predictable way, overcoming harsh outdoor climate conditions.
Products grown with the farming method are pesticide-free, generate less waste than conventional agriculture and are free of the limitations usually imposed by seasons, weather, climate and location.
The aim of the partnership is to encourage Dutch and Nigerian investors to invest in greenhouse horticulture, including breeding, greenhouse construction and cultivation, and climate systems.
Lagos Commissioner for Agriculture Abisola Olusanya said the state government was, particularly, delighted with Greenport Lagos, a structure for horticultural collaboration among government, business and knowledge institutions.
The Greenport project is expected to serve as a veritable platform for the implementation of solutions tailored specifically for Nigeria.
With the memorandum of Understanding(MoU) signed for realising the Impact Cluster – Greenport Lagos, Olusanya said Nigeria and the Netherlands have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen the field of agriculture.
“Netherlands is the second-largest exporter of agricultural produce in the world and in terms of landmass and size, it shares the same with Lagos. It was on record that the Netherlands and Nigeria had a long cooperation history and have an important trading and investment partnership,” she said.
Last year, institutions from Nigeria and the Netherlands signed a partnership to enhance the exchange of knowledge for protective vegetable cultivation.
The Nigerian team was made up of representatives of JMSF Agribusiness Ltd, Eupepsia Place Limited (Soilless Farm Lab) along with the leading communicator, the Africa Farmers’ Stories while Koppert Biological Systems, Pan African Seeds BV, Priva, Viscon, Leiden Delft Erasmus universities and Seed2Feed Foundation represented the Dutch Partners.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) sets the terms between the Nigerian and the Dutch partners, to speed up the implementation of protected cultivation and soilless farming techniques among Nigerian horticulture farmers in Nigeria.
Last year also, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, launched a programme to generate 9.7 million euros (about N4.42 billion) for 60,000 smallholder farmers across four states as well as make Nigeria a leading tomato exporter in the world.
The four-year project, tagged HortiNigeria, is in collaboration with The Netherlands and would also seek to boost production in the okra, onion, and pepper value chains. The project is currently managed by Dutch institutions including the International Fertiliser Development Centre (IFDC) and its consortium partners namely East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer (EWS-KT), Wageningen University and Research (WUR) and KIT Royal Tropical Institute, and will be implemented in selected states, including Kano, Kaduna, Ogun and Oyo.
The minister, however, lamented that Nigeria does not rank among the world’s leading tomato exporting countries, despite being acknowledged as one of Africa’s top producers.
He attributed the challenge to low yields occasioned by poor seed adoption.
Abubakar insisted that the country’s various ecologies, soil and climatic conditions remained suitable for production of horticultural crops, adding that the climate conditions confer immense competitive advantage and potential to assume a leading role in tomato production and trade.
Also, the Dutch Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Harry van Dijk, among other things, said the project will also unlock six million euros of private capital for farmers, traders, processors and SMEs.
He said the Nigeria’s horticultural sector offers immeasurable opportunities as local market demand for vegetables largely exceeds local production, with an estimated supply gap of 13 million metric tons.