AfDB Commits $300m to Nigeria’s Zonal Agriculture Project
By Adedapo Adesanya
In its quest to support agricultural value chain across Africa, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved $300 million to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to implement the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) project in Nigeria.
Expected to commence in July, the SAPZ project worth $500 million will be a collaborative effort by the bank, the Ministry, and other investors designed to concentrate agro-processing activities within areas of high agricultural potential across the country.
According to the AfDB President, Mr Adewumi Adesina, through his Senior Special Adviser on Industrialisation, Mr Oyebanji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, the agro-processing zones will cover the six geopolitical zones of the country.
“The project worth is $500 million. The processes we are putting in place now are the requirements by the bank. We have to do identification, reappraisal and write a report, to make sure that the clients are involved.
“We are hoping that by July or August, we will go to the board and get the money disbursed to Nigeria because it is already budgeted,” Mr Adesina said at the SAPZ inception workshop held in Abuja on Monday.
He also noted that the AfDB was ready work with development partners to provide grants and loans for the project while also providing capacity building and technical advice, adding that this would make the programme reach more farmers and investors across the country.
“For us, the central actors are the private sector people, we don’t want to make it a government thing, we want to make sure it is private-sector driven.
“Companies like the Flour Mill, Dangote Group, we are talking to all of them, even the smaller ones, we are inviting all of them to come on board.
“And those are the one that will set up factories and farms and so forth. But apart from that web, we also have the Bank of Industry (BoI), NIRSAL, National Sovereign Authority, which will be helping us to package infrastructure,” he said.
According to him, the SAPZ would also create jobs, boost food security and reduce food imports adding that it would also enable agricultural producers, processors and distributors to operate for a common goal.
He noted that countries like Senegal and Gabon had successfully implemented their own version of the programme and called on proper collaboration to ensure that this is also achieved in Nigeria.