Lagos Lauds Ecobank for Active Role in Artisanal Fisheries
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Lagos State Government has lauded Ecobank Nigeria for its active role to uplift the artisanal fisheries value chain in the state.
This was made known by Ms Abisola Olusanya, the Commissioner for Agriculture in her remark at the presentation of 34 fibreglass boats with outboard engines and other ancillary fishing equipment to cooperative societies of 680 youth fishermen.
She said the partnership with Ecobank has been phenomenal in helping to develop business models suitable for the fishermen, stating that the ministry was partnering with Ecobank and Old Mutual Assurance to provide banking services, track cash flow in the business and aid fleet expansion for the fishermen.
Ms Olusanya disclosed that the empowerment was under the 2021 Agricultural Value Chains Enterprise Activation Programme, inaugurated by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in July as part of the government’s commitment to supporting the fishery value chain.
She said that it was envisaged that the deployment of the fishing assets would create over 2,000 jobs in the upstream and downstream sub-sectors of the artisanal fisheries value chain, as well as produce 4,531 metric tonnes of fish annually, adding that each cooperative group comprising 20 members each would receive a boat.
The Commissioner further explained that the partnership with Ecobank was aimed at monitoring the activities of each cooperative group to ensure that they make judicious use of the equipment.
She said, “Today, we are distributing the fibreglass boat to 34 cooperative groups free of charge, under the 2021 Agricultural Value Chains Enterprise Activation Programme.
“We need to monitor your activities to ensure that you utilise the equipment very well and also expand and increase the number of your fleet with the support of the financial institution. The banks are here to plan your business and increase opportunities for the generations to come.
“We want you all to grow your business and become multinational companies. We don’t want people to come from Japan, the Netherlands and other foreign countries to talk about fish more than our people from the local fishing communities,” she said.
On his part, the Head of Agriculture Desk at Ecobank Nigeria, Mrs Moji Oguntoyinbo, said that the bank was delighted to partner with the state government on the fisheries value chain.
Mrs Oguntoyinbo said that it was an intentional action for the bank to partner with Lagos state due to its coastal region with a lot of opportunities in fisheries.
“We have seen Lagos state as a coastal region with a lot of opportunities in fisheries and we are delighted that the government has picked us as a focus in food sustainability to start development in this sector.
“Today, we are very delighted to be a partner on this laudable project. This is an intentional investment and incentive to fishermen in Lagos, to promote this sector to the extent of making it possible for fish production and exportation, in the very near future, from the state.
“This is very laudable for us and we are delighted that this will be a role model plan and action that we will also try to replicate in other coastal regions of Nigeria.
“Lagos is always taking the lead and we are delighted to partner with you on this project,” she said.
She then urged the beneficiaries to be consistently focused to ensure that the project would continue to revolve and would be extended to many more beneficiaries in the nearest future.
Also, Mr Adekunle Fasasi, President, Lagos State Fishermen Cooperative Society, commended the government for its continuous support and empowerment to the value chain.
He noted that in the whole of Nigeria, Lagos state was first in terms of fish production and promised to increase its number with the new empowerment.
“Lagos is a coastal region; we have oceans and seas and it is important that we take advantage of this for economic benefits.
“I am particularly happy that this initiative is focused on the youths because these are the people that will take over from us aged fishermen.
“I, hereby, implore the farmers to use the property as if they paid for it and prayed that God would continue to give them wisdom and strength needed to be better fishermen. Do not take it with levity because it is a gift,” he advised.