The Lagos State Government has flagged-off the emergency neighbourhood food markets for residents of communities, essentially to address the problem associated with the restriction order and promote social distancing in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.
The State Commissioner for Agriculture, Prince Gbolahan Lawal who spoke during an inspection tour to some of the markets at Ikeja Primary School, GRA and Ojota Nursery and Primary School, Ogudu, Lagos, noted that there are 25 of such neighbourhood food markets across the State.
Lawal stated that the aim of setting up the neighbourhood food markets is to provide Lagosians access to food supplies during this restrictive period in order to prevent panic buying after the State Governor’s directive closing all markets and stores trading in non-essential commodities.
He added that the initiative of temporary markets within the neighbourhood is meant for families that do not have the capacity to buy foodstuffs in bulk for storage during the stay-at-home period.
The Commissioner explained that the markets, which are the first phase of the initiative, would enable shoppers to buy produce and other everyday needs such as beverages, vegetables, fish, poultry products, bread and other essential needs at competitive, affordable and farmgate prices.
“Today, we are flagging-off the emergency neighbourhood food markets set up by the State Government in selected schools to bring markets closer to the people. Essentially, what we are going to see here is how a market is brought closer to the community. We don’t want a situation where people have to travel far in public transportation, thereby exposing themselves to the danger of COVID-19”, Lawal said.
While noting that the markets are located within 200km walking distance from residences in each community, Lawal maintained that the government envisaged patronage due to the short distance and ability to make retail purchases by those who cannot afford to buy items in bulk.
“There are some families that do not have the capacity for bulk purchase because they are daily earners; such people, because of the lockdown, are not able to get enough money. Those families can come here, buy a few things they need like beverages, vegetables, fish, bread, eggs and poultry products during this period. It is a typical grocery store like we have in other developed countries”, he stated.
Lawal explained that the next market dates are next Wednesday and Saturday this week, just as he urged residents to take advantage of the markets to buy their food and other agriculture needs.
He explained further that both the Ministries of Agriculture and Health have put in place safety guidelines at each of the food and agricultural markets but advised shoppers to adhere strictly to safety rules and take the necessary precautionary measures of social distancing while shopping.
The Commissioner stressed that there is no need for any panic buying by members of the public since the makeshift food and agricultural markets have been put in place by the State Government to ameliorate peoples’ suffering, disclosing that officials of the Nigeria Police and Neighbourhood Watch will be on ground to ensure the maintenance of law and order.
Lawal gave an assurance that fast-moving consumer goods will always be available at the various markets, hence there is no need for panic buying by shoppers.
He, therefore, advised all residents to take individual responsibility during this restrictive period by observing the precautions against the spread of COVID-19 to break the chain of its transmission in the State.