By Raji Rasak and Itohan Abara-Laserian
The Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, on Sunday said that the state would engage 10 major bakeries to ensure the mass production of coconut bread.
The governor made the disclosure during the World Coconut Day and 7th Lagos Heritage Festival, tagged “AGUNKFEST 2018″ in Badagry, Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the festival is “Harnessing Coconut Production for Economic Empowerment and Tourism Development in Lagos State”.
Ambode, represented by Mr Babatunde Hunpe, his Special Adviser on Environment, said that this was to ensure more market avenue for coconut utilisation.
According to him, Coconut tree has been identified as the most useful single tree in the world in terms of versatility, product utilisation and longevity.
“Therefore, taking coconut to another level with this type of programme is long overdue.
“Nigeria is ranked 18 in the world as a coconut producing country and Lagos State is contributing 70 per cent of the total production.
“Our government places high premium on sustainable food production which is the impetus driving the various activities in the agricultural sector with a renewed commitment.
“A major step taken towards achieving this goal is the establishment of the Lagos State Coconut Development Authority (LASCODA) to uphold the state’s comparative advantage in coconut production,” he said.
The governor said that the state had distributed coconut processing equipment in 12 local governments and local council development areas.
“We have also embarked on the rehabilitation of the coconut belt, massive production of improved coconut seedlings, capacity building and empowerment of coconut value chain actors.
“We have channeled a lot of resources into creating an enduring infrastructural architecture that would ensure that the state’s tourism potential are fully harness for all round economic growth and development.
“We will continue to create the enabling environment for investment in coconut production, commercialisation and utilisation,” he said.
The Commissioner for Agriculture, Lagos State, Mr Toyin Suarau, said the state knew the importance of coconut to its economy, adding that it was called miracle crop.
Suarau said that the crop had generated job opportunity for the youths.
He said the occasion had presented a unique opportunity to create awareness on the array of invaluable economic, health and environmental benefits that coconut offers as well as draw global attention to Badagry division.
The commissioner was represented at the event by the Pernament Secretary of the ministry, Mr Olayiwola Onasanya.
Also, Mr Tojinu Seton, the Coordinator, AGUNKFEST 2018, said the festival started in 2009, adding that it was the first of its kind in Nigeria.
Seton said that the festival was geared towards creating awareness among the governments and people of Nigeria, especially Lagos State toward the invaluable economic import, health and environmental benefits that coconut offers.