The Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr. Solomon Bonu, has expressed the readiness of the State Government to vigorously market coconut plantations in Badagry as a viable means of boosting tourism and the coconut value chain in the State.
Bonu gave the assurance at the ninth edition of Coconut Festival, Agunkefest, held in Badagry, Lagos, saying that the State Government wants to elevate the prominence of the coconut product beyond its agricultural value to showcase the huge cultural heritage of the Badagry people to the world.
He stated that the objective of the annual Coconut festival is to create increased awareness about the product, its importance and its viability in terms of economic value in addition to its huge tourism potential.
His words: “The Ministry realised that the coconut festival, which has an agricultural impact, can also be used as a veritable tool to market Badagry and Lagos as a destination of choice in the area of coconut plantation”.
“The festival also aligns with domestic tourism initiative which is currently being driven by the Ministry across different local government areas in the State. The Community-based tourism initiative is aimed at making all communities viable in the area of tourism, arts and culture through which they will be able to contribute to the growth and development of the State”, the Special adviser informed.
Also speaking at the event, one of the Commissioners at the Lagos State Audit Service Commission, Mr. Sunday Kappo, urged industrialists and investors to invest in coconut production and preservation, just as he advised the residents of Badagry to always replace any fallen coconut tree to boost production.
A Nollywood actor and an indigene of Badagry, Segun Arinze, who attended the event alongside some of his colleagues from the movie industry, commended the federal government on the ongoing construction of the Agbara-Badagry expressway.
Segun Arinze urged the contractor working on the road to accelerate work, adding that unless the road is fixed no investors would like to come and invest in the ancient town.
In his remarks, the President of the African Coconut Heritage Initiative – Agunkefest, Doheto Mesi, called for concerted efforts from all stakeholders towards ensuring coconut sufficiency in Nigeria.
According to him, although Lagos accounts for about 70 per cent of Nigeria’s production quota, it is facing some challenges, especially in the Badagry division, such as indiscriminate felling of coconut and other trees without adequate plans for replanting.
This development, according to him, has caused a deficit in Nigeria’s coconut production capacity, especially now that awareness about the utilisation of coconut and its derivatives are on the increase.
“The situation is evident in the current practice of importation of coconut in large quantities from neighbouring African Countries, through Badagry borders, to meet the high demand from every part of Nigeria”, he said.