Abuja, Sept. 7, 2023: The Federal Government has expressed its commitment to accelerate the implementation of the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) project in the country.
The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Sen. Abubarka Kyari, said this at the SAPZ Phase II Inception Workshop on Wednesday in Abuja.
“The President Bola Tinubu’s administration is determined to give unprecedented attention to agriculture and food security.
“We are determined to fast track the Phase I and Phase II of this project to unlock the opportunities for food security, job security and increase the contribution of the sector to the GDP.
“SAPZ has come to stay. All hands must therefore be on deck to ensure a successful implementation of the programme in Nigeria,” Kyari said.
According to the minister, the project is designed to diversify the country’s economy by changing agriculture to becoming a profitable economic venture.
He said it would provide a win-win scenario for investors, government and citizens, adding that it was open for more collaboration from investors.
The minister then pledged the commitment of the government to work with the states and private sector to mobilise resources for the implementation of the project.
Earlier, the Director-General, Nigeria Country Department of AfDB, Lamin Barrow, said the SAPZ sought to promote the development of value chain for strategic commodities in Nigeria and across Africa.
“ They will provide world class infrastructure to support food agribusinesses to locate close to zones of production, develop competitive value chains supported by logistic systems that will drive food processing and value addition.
“The SAPZs will help create massive wealth and jobs in rural areas and turn rural areas away from being zones of economic misery to zones of economic prosperity,” he said
According to Lamin, AfDB is developing SAPZs in 11 African countries.One each in Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Madagascar, Senegal, and Togo, and four in Ethiopia.
He said that the SAPZ programme in Nigeria was the largest, both in scale and scope as phase 1 is currently being implemented over five years in seven states.
He said the states included Cross River, Imo Kaduna , Kano, Kwara, Ogun and Oyo, adding that the states were chosen based on readiness and to achieve a balance across Nigeria’s six geo-political zones.
According to Lamin, there has been a growing interest and enthusiasm from both the Government and private sector players in the Phase II of the SAPZ Programme.
“ So far, the Bank has received Expression of Interest (EOI) from no fewer than 23 States across the six geo-political zones in the country. “The States are: Lagos, Anambra, Benue, Ekiti, Delta, Gombe, Ondo, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Nasarawa, Niger, Bayelsa, Bauchi, Ebonyi, Enugu, Osun, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba and Borno.
“It is expected that at the end of the 2-Day discussion, the participating states will be screened and onboarded based on readiness and quality of entry criteria which will be deliberated upon during the workshop,”he added.
The government representatives from Gombe, Katsina, Ekiti and Kebbi states expressed their states willingness and commitment to the project, saying they were ready for investors in their various states.
The programme was attended by government officials, representatives of state governments, Ministries, Departments and Agencies, partners and stakeholders among others.