Home Agriculture Buhari launches Special Agro-Processing Zones in 7 States, FCT

Buhari launches Special Agro-Processing Zones in 7 States, FCT

by Business News Report

Federal Government in a bid to diversify the economy from oil and gas dependent, President Muhammadu Buhari, has launched Special Agro-Processing Zones Programme, SAPZ, in seven States and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT. Buhari who was represented by Voce President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo described the SAPZ as game-changer, as it would give a boost to food production, wealth creation, employment generation, and export. He acknowledged Nigeria’s large arable land, relatively cheap labour should be able to feed herself, which he pointed some challenges facing agriculture recently including inflation, high food prices, high input prices, insecurity, Russia-Ukraine War, drought and flooding caused by climate change. The Nigeria Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) programme is a government-enabled and private sector-led initiative that will and mobilise private sector investment to develop value chains for selected strategic crops and livestock in the participating States. Nigeria will implement the first phase of of the SAPZ programme with co-financing from the African Development Bank, AfDB, International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD, and Islamic Development Bank, IsDB.

The total amount mobilised for Phase 1 is $538.05 million, which African Development Bank is providing $210 million; the IFAD together with the Green Climate Fund, $160 million; IsDB $150.52 million, while from the Federal Government of Nigeria is $2.01 million, and $16.01 million from the seven participating States. The participating States under Phase 1 include Kaduna, Kano, Kwara, Oyo, Ogun, Imo, Cross Rivers, and Federal Capital Territory, FCT.

Essence of the launch of SAPZ is to formally announce the Nigeria SAPZ to key stakeholders; national, and international partners, co-financiers, development partners, the private sector, farmers groups, national networks and diaspora population and other actors. To attract private sector investment into the zones; To raise public awareness of the SAPZ programme; To demonstrate political support at the highest levels of Federal and State governments in Nigeria, and the leadership of key partners. And to enhance understanding of the roles of key actors involved in the implementation process. He said “a nation such as ours with large track of arable land and relatively cheap labour should be able to feed itself processed food and produced for domestic use, and also for export, creating millions of good paying jobs. But that is clearly not the case. What we have today aside from the few large commercial farms are mainly aggregation of subsistence farmers who do what they can without support by a a clear and dedicated plan for industrialisation of agriculture.

So the well thought out answer to our predicament is the Special Agro-Processing Zones Programme, SAPZ, programme. The Programme was recently approved by the Federal Executive Council. “It is a major crosscutting value chain investment effort driven by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural in alignment with the National Agricultural Technology and Innovation Policy of the Federal Government to incentivise agro-industrialisation private sector development.” Meanwhile, the President explained that specifically, the SAPZ is designed to develop multiple clusters of agricultural transformation centres, and added that they would have functional infrastructure including road networks, power, water, communication facilities, and others to attract private investments. According to him, the SAPZ programme is a five -year programme being implemented Hy the Federal Government of Nigeria in partnership with the African Development Bank, AfDB, International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD, Islamic Development Bank, State Governments, and private investors.

However, he pointed that the Programme ks designed to bring about import substitution in order to reduce food import bill, boost revenue from agriculture exports, create wealth for rural farming communities, create new sustainable jobs for women and young people, stem rural-urban migration, and revive public and private sector funded assets, improve business environment, and others. He also expressed optimism that the Programme would solve food problems and feed the continent’s largest population, as it has become a strategic and integral part of the agricultural policies of the government.nAlso disclosed that the second phase will bring on board 18 States, which the SAPZ would benefit from technology and innovation, where the Programme is poised to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCTA, which would make Nigeria “be the bread basket and agribusiness hub in Africa.”  He added that the Programme would be a catalyst to the National Livestock Transformation Programme, and others.

He further stated that, “We must incentivise agriculture through greater investments and enabling environment for private sector participation, and to advance our agro-industrialisation.” Earlier, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, in a remark said, “The SAPZ is the flagship for Nigeria’s agriculture, which entails the development and operation of agro industrial processing clusters in areas of high food production across the country, to engender the competitiveness in agro industrial production and processing that is critical to further unlock the potentials of Nigeria’s agriculture, to improve food and nutrition security, to reduce post harvest losses, create jobs for women and youth, as well as create wealth for the rural community.” Abubakar added that the SAPZ is to transform the agricultural sector into an advantageous one in Africa.

According to him its successful implementation would create up to 550,000 additional new jobs in production, processing and other associated activities and contribute up to about $10 million to Nigeria’s economy annually through additional cultivation of up to about 950,000 hectares of land. “This will add to agricultural output of up to 12.7 million metric tonnes per annum, as well as value added processing of up to 6.2 million metric tonnes per annum”, he said. IFAD has been a strong partner with Nigeria for our entire history, since our founding in 1977.  “With the SAPZ project we will have reached $700 million in direct investment with Nigeria and with co-financing of $1.2 billion with our partners in Nigeria. We are focused on building rural resilience building rural communities where people can grow, produce small scale agriculture and improve those outputs along the value chain to have rural, sustainable, vibrant communities. We know that food is not just the future of food is the present. Investing in food is investing in our present and our future. 

And I think that the current global food crisis has made this apparent to every person in every nation today. IFAD has in response to the recent floods and in recognition of our long standing partnership with the government of Nigeria scaled up our support to dry season farming to help the people of Nigeria produce additional food in the historic dry season where less food has been traditionally produced. I am also delighted to announce today a special new significant contribution by ephod for Nigeria in response to the flooding. This is a grant funding of almost $5 million to be invested in climate resilient agriculture.” On the launch of the SAPZ, she (Meighan) said, “IFAD is honoured to be a partner with the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as the African Development Bank and Islamic Development Bank in this Programme. 

“We are proud that our investment will contribute directly to the incomes of 100,000 small farmers and food producers in Nigeria we believe that there is importance to have a strong focus on youth and women, smallholder farmers and producers in particular, while also bringing in the private sector and others in the four P model which we use the ‘Public Private private Producer Partnership’ to make sure that these investments are sustainable, and long standing. The SAPZ project is a game changer. We believe that investment in food and food production is imperative for today and investments in food and food production is imperative for our future. We are honoured to work with the Republic of Nigeria to support this game changing project. I wish everyone involved in the project all success.” Meanwhile, speaking on behalf of governors from participating States, the Governor of Cross River State, Prof Ben Ayade, lamented how machines brought into the country by a Dutch firm for land clearing and preparation have been held down at the Lagos port for over six months, and the Nigerian Customs Service is bent on collecting revenue from the company, hence hampering food production process. Ayade also charged the Ministers of Agric, Finance, and Trade to ensure sustainability of the Programme with passion in order for it not to die, and added that the incoming Government should take the SAPZ programme seriously and not to look elsewhere.

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