The Federal Government, in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and other stakeholders, is set to roll out a Special-Agro Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) Programme aimed at concentrating agro-processing activities in demarcated areas across the country.
This is part of the Buhari administration’s efforts to transform agricultural productivity in the country by integrating production, processing and marketing of selected commodities.
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo commended the progress in the plan on Friday during a meeting at the Presidential Villa where he was briefed about the status of the collaboration.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Mohammed Nanono and his counterpart in the Industry, Trade and Investment Ministry, Otunba Niyi Adebayo were also at the meeting.
Under the programme, the Nigerian government, in collaboration with the AfDB and working with other stakeholders such as the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Bank of Industry, will demarcate areas across the 36 States and the FCT where the agro-processing centres will be established. About 140 of such centers are being envisaged across the country.
The agro-processing centres will be provided with basic infrastructure such as water, electricity and roads as well as facilities for skills training. Small-holder farmers in the catchment areas will be linked to markets across the value chain.
To set off the plan in the opening phase, 7 States representing most of the geo-political zones in the country have been selected in addition to the Federal Capital Territory. The States are Ogun, Oyo, Imo, Cross River, Kano, Kaduna, Kwara. All the other States in the country would be added later as the scheme progresses.
The programme aligns with the Economic Sustainability Plan and the Next Level programme of the Buhari administration regarding agriculture.
AfDB’s Acting Vice-President, Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Ms Toda Atsuko, said the bank in collaboration with other stakeholders was ready to start the first phase of the Special-Agro Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) Programme, having completed a joint appraisal mission across the 36 States with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
Atsuko who commended the Buhari administration for its efforts said the success of the project was hinged on the political will of the Buhari administration, adding that the plan will create jobs, and leverage on technology with significant youth participation.