FG to create agro-processing zones in seven states

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The federal government has announced plans to launch a special agro-industrial processing zones (SAPZ) programme.

Laolu Akande, spokesman of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, made this known in a statement on Friday.

He said the project is in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and other stakeholders in the agric sector, including the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Bank of Industry (BOI).

The programme is aimed at concentrating agro-processing activities in demarcated areas to boost productivity and integrate production, processing and marketing of selected commodities.

Akande said Osinbajo was briefed on the progress of the project in a meeting attended by Mohammed Nanono, minister of agriculture and rural development, and Niyi Adebayo, his counterpart in the industry, trade and investment ministry.

Under the programme, the federal government will demarcate areas across the 36 states and the federal capital territory (FCT) to establish about 140 agro-processing centres.

He said the centres will be provided with basic infrastructure such as water, electricity and roads as well as facilities for skills training, while small-holder farmers in the catchment areas will be linked to markets across the value chain.

Akande said seven states — Ogun, Oyo, Imo, Cross River, Kano, Kaduna, Kwara — and the FCT have been selected for the first phase of the project.

Speaking on the progress recorded so far, Toda Atsuko, AfDB’s acting vice-president, agriculture, human and social development, said the bank in collaboration with other stakeholders is ready to start the first phase of the SAPZ programme, having completed a joint appraisal mission across the 36 states.

Atsuko commended the administration of Presidential Muhammadu Buhari for its efforts, adding that the plan will create jobs, and leverage technology with significant youth participation.

“I am very pleased to see that work has advanced and quite a bit is already being done. There is a need to synergize really concretely with Green Imperative (which is the partnership with the Brazilians), I think there are areas where these two programmes can complement each other,” he said.

“I am absolutely certain that we have enough room given the sheer size of the agric enterprise in Nigeria, we have enough room to accommodate these programmes, especially when they are synergized in a way that it will benefit the entire sector.”

In his remarks, Osinbajo commended the efforts of all stakeholders, noting that “this is a very good progress that we have made and we must ensure this actually works”.

Donal Brown, associate vice-president of IFAD, said the organisation will co-finance the project with the AfDB with the view to creating an important opportunity for smallholder farmers in Nigeria to improve their farm yields, enhance their income and livelihoods.

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