The Lagos State government has said it has begun talks with 10 major bakeries to ensure mass production of coconut bread, ‘Eko Bread’, as a means to provide more market avenue for coconut utilisation.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode disclosed this at the 7th Coconut Heritage Festival tagged ‘AGUNKEFEST’, an event held in collaboration with the African Coconut Heritage Initiatives, held on Sunday, to commemorate the 2018 World Coconut Day at the Suntan Beach Front, Badagry.
Alluding to the fact that Nigeria is ranked 18 in the world as a coconut producing country with Lagos State contributing 70 per cent of the total production, the Governor said his administration would continue to create the enabling environment for investments in coconut production, commercialization and utilization in the state.
Ambode, who was represented by Mr. Babatunde Hunpe the Special Adviser on the Environment, said his administration placed high premium on sustainable food production, which he said was the impetus driving the various activities in the agricultural sector with a renewed commitment to support initiatives geared towards revamping and developing the coconut industry to global standard and recognition.
He stressed: “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.
“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 that the Model Coconut Processing Centre in Mowo Badagry had been fully rehabilitated and available for training of prospective coconut processors, as well as provide services to existing processors at affordable cost.
“To expand the scope of coconut processing operations and further collaborate with the private sector, the state government has distributed coconut processing equipment to coconut processors in 12 local governments and local council development areas in the state as part of its empowerment programmes in the coconut value chain,” he said.
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Other efforts by the state government to create an enabling environment for coconut production, commercialisation and utilisation, according to the governor, included the rehabilitation of the coconut belt, massive production of improved coconut seedlings; capacity building/empowerment of coconut value chain actors; production of coconut derivatives on demonstration basis; encouragement of proliferation of coconut cottage industries for value addition and technological advancement in the coconut value chain.
Mrs. Aramide Giwanson, the special adviser to the Governor on Arts and Culture, said the objective of the celebration was to draw global attention and beam searchlight on Badagry division of the state thereby showcasing its rich cultural and traditional values to attract both domestic and international tourists to the division and the state.
Giwanson said the focus of the state government was to create the needed environment that is private sector driven, hence, the beginning of the collaborative and partnership effort between the Lagos State government and the private sector, African Coconut Heritage Initiatives, towards the promotion and celebration of the coconut festival this year which is a noble cultural asset in Lagos State.
She added that the festival was part of the promotion of the enormous tourism potentials of Lagos State to the world, which she said, had started to yield monumental dividends, adding that the hosting of the event would further boost and sustain it.
Highlights of the event included exhibitions, parades, command performances by various cultural groups and cooking competition, while awards were presented to winners as well as presentation of an award of ‘Tourism Governor of Nigeria’ to Governor Ambode by the organisers.