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AFDB, IFAD to invest $538m to establish agro processing zones

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Following the launch of the Staple Crop Agro Processing zones in the country, indications have emerged that the African Development Bank (AFDB), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) will be investing the sum of $538million in the establishment of agro processing zones in the country

A breakdown shows that AFDB will be investing $210million, while IFAD and IDB will be co-financing the project with $160million and $150million respectively for seven-year period.

The AFDB President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, who gave the breakdown of the investment during an interactive session yesterday in Abuja stressed that the Staple Crop Agro Processing zones (SAPZ) project will not only reduce rural-urban migration but also help to transform rural economies of Nigeria from zones of economic misery to zones of economic prosperity, boosting wealth and livelihoods.

He explained that the SAZPs 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.

The Director General of AfDB Nigeria, Mr. Lamin Barrow, while speaking, said the SAPZ will facilitate the establishment of eight agro-industrial Processing Hubs, 15 Agricultural Transformation Centres, 2,300 ha of irrigated lands and access roads.

He said the programme, to be implemented in seven states – Cross River, Imo, Kaduna, Kano, Kwara, Ogun and Oyo and the Federal Capital Territory, would supply certified agricultural inputs, provide extension services, training and skills development activities for farmers and SMEs.

Barrow further stated that the five-year programme would support policy and institutional development for SAPZs. The Associate Vice President of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Ms. Katherine Meighan said Nigeria with over 88 per cent arable land is well positioned as a powerhouse for agro-industrialisation across the continent.

She said the involvement of the private sector is critical for the successful implementation of SAPZ using the 4P model.

“The SAPZ journey is a ground-breaking one. Food is our present and food is our future. IFAD is honoured to partner with the chains.

“We encourage private sector companies and investors here today to join us. Together, we will maximise the SAPZ benefits for small-scale producers and the private sector in line with national priorities.

“Together, we will ensure the continued food security of Nigeria and the resilience of its rural smallholder farmers. Together, we will support Nigeria as the powerhouse that it is for agro-industrialisation across the African continent,” Ms. Meighan stated.

In his address, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar said the SAPZ programme is a dedicated agro-processing area within major food production clusters with desirable ultramodern infrastructure to attract private sector investments into modern agro-processing of locally produced crops, livestock and related agribusiness activities. He said the preparation to scale up to programme 18 states in the second phase is also in the pipeline.

The Minister said this and many more would strengthen the Nigeria agribusiness ecosystem to respond more efficiently to the challenges of our time.

“The SAPZ is the flagship for the Nigeria’s agriculture, which entails the development and operation of agro-industrial processing clusters in areas of high-food production across the country to engender the competitiveness in agro-industrial production and processing. That is critical to further unlock the potentials of Nigeria’s agriculture to improve food security, reduce post-harvest losses, create jobs for women and youths as well as create wealth for farming communities and reduce poverty in the Country,” he said.