The Lagos State Government has commended Ecobank Nigeria on its partnership to uplift artisanal fisheries value chain in the state.
The Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, in her remark at the presentation of 34 fibre glass boats with outboard engines and other ancillary fishing equipment to cooperative societies of 680 youth fishermen, said partnership with Ecobank has been phenomenal in helping to develop business models suitable for the fishermen, adding 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.
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.
“Today, we are distributing the fibre glass 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, Netherlands and other foreign countries to talk about fish more than our people from the local fishing communities,” she said.
The Head, Agriculture Desk, Ecobank Nigeria, Mrs Moji Oguntoyinbo, said that the bank was delighted to partner with the state government on the fisheries value chain.
Oguntoyinbo said that it was an intentional action for the bank to partner with the 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 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, the President, Lagos State Fishermen Cooperative Society, Mr. Adekunle Fasasi, 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.
According to Fasasi, “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.