As AfDB set to fund project with $500m
Each SAPZ to 30, 000 jobs targeted
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Muhammad Nanono, Monday, said the success of the six Special Agro-Processing Zones, SAPZs, depends on agricultural mechanization.
Nanono stated this while declaring open a two Special Agro-Processing Zones Inception Workshop in Abuja, where he maintained that the only to make the project a reality is for all hands to be on deck.
While commending the African Development Bank towards the SAPZs also pledged the support of the ministry to ensure the project comes on stream to boost food production, security, and employment generation, said there is no reason for the project to fail this time around.
He said: “This project is crucial to the development of this country. I think attempts have been made from where it is taken for these processing zones in six processing zones, unfortunately, it has never been able to take off.
“I am proud and heavily elated that this project is taking off with strong collaboration from the African Development Bank.
“Nigeria is a major stakeholder in the African Development Bank, and also the President of the African Development Bank is a son of the soil. So it is a big opportunity now to partake and appreciate this agro-processing zone.
“The clustering of farmers in this exercise is very crucial, and also we have to understand that it not clustering the farmers but what the farmers do and what they produce we can have the cluster of processing zones but we may end up losing the process.
“If green is the word then we have excess or surplus to even feed entire Africa not just the West African Sub-region. But why not see potential challenges or research on those things on agricultural mechanization to improve the yield of what is planted, and then extension workers to guide on how to go about producing these things. These three challenges are there and unless you get them right you can uplift your agricultural production.
“We are trading on an average of 1.5 to two tonnes per hectare across the board. But in those countries that we are sighting, you are talking of eight to 10 tonnes per hectare. The answer is agriculture mechanization and is crucial to this cluster of the industry we are talking about.”
Meanwhile, the Senior Director, AfDB, Mr. Ebrima Faal, disclosed that the bank is funding the six SAPZs with $5000 million for a long period.
“This is a project that the President of AfDB, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina has been working on while he was the Minister of Agriculture. We are focusing on Nigeria being the biggest economy and target farmer land in the African region.
“Our effort is to strengthen commercial farming and industrialization. We are committing from our resources a total of $500 million and we hope to leverage on funds from partners”, Faal said.
He also added that “The project will be led by government and the private sector, we are financier and we hope the project will last for a long time.”
While speaking with journalists on the sidelines, Senior Special Adviser to the President on Industrialisation, AfDB, Prof Oyebanji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, said the project will kick-off in August 2020, which possibly each SAPZ could generate 25, 000 to 30, 000 direct jobs.
He also explained that the six SPZs are not according to the six geopolitical zones but based on what they state to produce and already 18 states are on the first four SAPZs
“Hopefully by August this year, it will take off. The money will be released this year and then the construction will start before the end of the year. For the first stage, almost 18 states are involved in the four zones and the other states will be taken on board in 2021.
‘We are going to be aggregating small farmers into groups, associations, cooperatives in each zone because you need them. Whether you like it or not you need them and if you want to reduce poverty you have to include the small farmers and begin to scale them up. What we have done is that every state is done. It is six zones but not six geopolitical zones. They are on the crops in the geopolitical zones.
“When we get these six zones right and once people see that it is working, you will even see individuals building zones by themselves. This is why I am committed to it”, Oyelaran-Oyeyinka said.