By Akanimo Sampson
President Muhammadu Buhari is currently warming up to flood Nigeria with Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs).
The Buhari administration wants to use SAPZs as integrated development initiatives with the goal of concentrating agro-processing activities within areas of high agricultural potential to boost productivity, integrate production, processing and marketing of selected commodities.
To this effect, a workshop was held in Abuja last February 17 to 18, to address the
categorisation and location of the SAPZs, which are meant to kick-start the agriculture sector.
Also, African Development Bank (AfDB) in collaboration with the Federal Government has held a meeting with stakeholders to discuss details.
Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Sabo Nanono, is full of praises for the efforts of AfDB and accordingly calls for all hands to be on deck in the sustainable implementation of the initiative.
“I am proud that the SAPZ project is taking off, with strong collaboration with the AfDB. The project is indeed a promising one for the future of agriculture in Nigeria”, the minister says.
The workshop was attended by Afreximbank, the International Finance Corporation, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the Development Bank of Nigeria and the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria.
Senior Special Adviser to AfDB President, Oyebanji Oyeyinka-Oyelaran, outlined the strategy for Nigeria, saying it will focus on developing key value chains and select the most promising agricultural clusters.
“The strategy will also promote inclusivity, have a positive multiplier effect in the zones of influence, by increasing yields through the use of modern technologies – improved seed, fertilizers, mechanization, digitization, irrigation and maximise positive engagement of youth and women,” he said.
He, however, explains that value addition through better handling of post-harvest losses and processing of the commodities would be a key feature of this program in order to boost competitiveness.
They will enable agricultural producers, processors, aggregators and distributors to operate in the same vicinity to reduce transaction costs and share business development services for increased productivity and competitiveness.
By bringing adequate infrastructure (energy, water, roads, ICT) to rural areas of high agricultural potential, SAPZs attract investments from private agro-industrialists/entrepreneurs to contribute to the economic and social development of rural areas.
Senior Director for the AfDB in Nigeria, Ebrima Faal, says “the establishment of SAPZs in Nigeria will boost the structural transformation of the economy by providing opportunities for public and private sector investment in agriculture.
“When fully operational, the SAPZs will enhance national food and nutritional security, optimise the export of value-added agricultural commodities and improve the quality of livelihoods through wealth creation for rural farming communities.”