Agricultural zones that would enable agricultural producers, processors, aggregators and distributors to operate in the same vicinity in order to reduce transaction costs and share business development services for increased productivity and competitiveness is in the offing as the African Development Bank is collaborating with the Federal Government to set up such zones across the country.
The zones known as Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) is expected to attract investments from private agro-industrialists/entrepreneurs, bring adequate infrastructure to rural areas of high agricultural potential and contribute to the economic and social development of the areas.
A workshop was held recently in Abuja to address the categorisation and location of the SAPZs, which are meant to kickstart the agriculture sector.
Speaking at the event, Nigeria’s Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, lauded the efforts of the African Development Bank and called 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 African Development Bank. The project is indeed a promising one for the future of agriculture in Nigeria,” he said.
The well-attended forum presented all stakeholders with the opportunity to follow up on outcomes of previous design interventions. The workshop was attended, among others, by Afreximbank, the International Finance Corporation, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Development Bank of Nigeria and the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria.
The Senior Special Adviser to the President of the African Development Bank, Oyebanji Oyeyinka-Oyelaran, outlined the strategy for Nigeria, saying it would 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 maximize positive engagement of youth and women,” he said.
He further explained 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.
Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones are integrated development initiatives designed to concentrate agro-processing activities within areas of high agricultural potential to boost productivity, integrate production, processing and marketing of selected commodities.
“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,” said Ebrima Faal, Senior Director for the African Development Bank in Nigeria.
“When fully operational, the SAPZs will enhance national food and nutritional security, optimize the export of value-added agricultural commodities and improve the quality of livelihoods through wealth creation for rural farming communities,” he added.