The African Development Bank (AfDB) says it is providing US$ 210 million for the development of the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) programme in Nigeria.
AfDB’s President, Akinwumi Adesina, disclosed this in his virtual address at the inauguration of SAPZ programme on Monday in Abuja.
SAPZ programme, inaugurated by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, is a government-enabled and private sector-led initiative to moblise private sector investment to develop value chains for selected strategic crops and livestock in participating states.
Adesina said to fully unlock the potential of Nigeria’s agriculture, more needs to be done to promote and support the agribusiness sector.
“Transforming agriculture must start with recognising that agriculture is a business, a wealth-creating sector, not just a way of life.
“Unlocking wealth in agriculture requires the provision of appropriate technologies to boost productivity, development of agricultural value chains, financial structure to support agricultural value chains, and investments in infrastructure to unlock investments by food and agribusinesses.
“That is why the AfDB has launched the development of SAPZ; the SAPZs are new economic zones, located in rural areas, to be fully supported by infrastructure (power, water, roads, digital infrastructure, and logistics) that will allow food and agribusiness companies to locate within such zones.
“This will put them close to farmers in production catchment areas, provide market offtakes for farmers, support processing and value addition, reduce food losses, and allow the emergence of highly competitive food and agricultural value chains.”
He said that the development of the SAPZs was one that he had envisioned when he was the Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria.
Adesina said he knew that Nigeria needed to diversify its economy by turning agriculture into a wealth-creating sector with highly competitive agricultural value chains.
“Seven years after my being Minister of Agriculture of Nigeria, the dream to establish these SAPZs continued.
“I continued to push for the establishment of the SAPZs when I was elected President of the AfDB in 2015.
“Today, the African Development Bank is investing over US$ 1 billion in SAPZs in 18 African countries; the SAPZs will help to transform the food and agriculture sector.
“They will attract private agribusinesses to locate in infrastructure-enabled rural areas; they will create massive amounts of jobs across agricultural value chains.”
The AfDB boss said that SAPZ would reduce rural to urban migration, expand the fiscal space, and enhance the emergence of competitive agricultural value chains.
He said that the SAPZ would help to transform rural economies of Nigeria from zones of economic misery to zones of economic prosperity, boosting wealth and livelihoods.
Adesina added that he is delighted that the SAPZ has finally become a reality in Nigeria.
“The AfDB is providing US$ 210 million for the development of the SAPZs in Nigeria.
“We are delighted with our partnership with the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) which is co-financing with US$ 150 million, and with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) which is co-financing with US$ 160 million.”
Adesina said the SAPZ programme in Nigeria is the largest in Africa.
He commended the commitment of the Ministers of Agriculture, Finance, Budget and National Planning as well as the commitment of the state governors to the programme.
Adesina said that the inauguration of SAPZs marked the beginning of a long journey of transformation.
“The SAPZ will help feed Nigeria; the SAPZs will help transform Nigeria’s rural economies, help to expand fiscal space; and fully unlock Nigeria’s agricultural potential.
“The SAPZs will create millions of jobs; let us travel this journey together; Nigerians deserve the results; lower food prices, food security, and wealth for rural areas,” he said.
Earlier in her speech, Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, said it is the desire of President Muhammadu Buhari to resuscitate the vigour of having agro-processing zones in Nigeria.
She said SAPZ is aimed at promoting the agriculture value-chain, to empower youths and revitalise non-functional investments in agriculture and to curtail the level of importation of products that could be locally produced in the country.
Ahmed said that the first phase of the SAPZ programme will kick-start with a credit facility of US$ 410 million already from secured from co-financing development partners – AfDB, IsDB and IFAD.