FG restates support for agro-industrial processing zones

Federal government has restated its commitment to establishing agro industrial processing zones in the country. Minister of State for Agriculture, Mr Mustapha Shehuri, in Lagos made the pledge. Speaking at the maiden edition of the Ecobank’ Agribusiness Summit, Shehuri said the development is expected to generate more job opportunities in the sector. The Minister said: “It is gladdening that this forum has brought together agricultural stakeholders under one roof to discuss the problems and challenges facing the sector with a view to finding solutions and way forward. “This forum marks another milestone in the journey of economic diversification in line with the vision of President Buhari’s administration to boost agricultural production, and job creations.

“Presently, FMARD is promoting and supporting the development of Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) in collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB) for value addition, import substitution and job creation. This administration is committed to finding a lasting solution to address the issues of food security in the country as well as to encourage local farmers to produce more and better quality food for all. The aim was to restore the lost glory of the country’s agricultural sector, which before the oil boom as we all know, was the main driver of Nigeria’s economy,” Shehuri said. The minister also harped on the potential of the Nigerian agriculture sector as he pledged support for local and international partnership in the sector.

“Nigeria’s potential and prospects make the agricultural sector a pivot for economic stabilisation, diversification and growth in the country. Indeed, the sector is a major contributor to the National Gross Domestic Product, contributing about 27 per cent to the (GDP) and the biggest in jobs creation in the non-oil sectors. With the noticeable growth in production in the agricultural and food sectors of the economy, a major emphasis has been on stimulating agricultural export to increase our foreign exchange earnings. In doing this, we are giving attention to meeting the standard of the requirements of not only the local, but also international markets. Commitment and support will continue to be given to areas of promoting foreign and local partnerships to advance level of trade and investments in agriculture as a veritable strategy to diversify the economy. There is the need for a viable synergy and collaboration of all the relevant stakeholders including the financial sectors, governments at different levels and the development partners,” the minister said.

In his remarks, Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, promised to change the face of various agricultural estates and farm settlements in the state to boost production and encourage youths’ participation in agriculture. Sanwo-Olu said that efforts had already began toward achieving this goal through the recently concluded appraisal of the current state of these farm estates. The governor said that the state government’s focus was geared toward developing agricultural value chains in which the state has competitive and comparative advantages. Toward achieving these goals, the state, through the Ministry of Agriculture, has prepared a strategic plan to collaborate and partner with stakeholders in policy review, formulation and implementation, database collation and upgrade. Capacity building with special focus on youths and women; public private partnership to establish companies and processes to boost and sustain agricultural productivity in fisheries, poultry, piggery, red meat, coconut, rice and vegetables value chain.

“This will be done by adopting appropriate technologies in line with global best practices,” Sanwo-Olu said. He explained that the state government was also collaborating with the development partners, such as the World Bank to implement various agric-based projects in the state.

Sanwo-Olu said that the Agro Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Support Project (APPEALS) was one of such projects that would empower no fewer than 10,000 farmers in the next four years in the state.  All these initiatives and several others, being promoted by this administration, are meant to encourage private sector participation in the agric sector.

“It is very important that we pay special attention to the agricultural value chain because it is only through the value chain that we can maximise the potentials in the sector,” the governor said.

He commended the bank for demonstrating its commitment with the N70 billion financing scheme in support of the growth and development of the agric sector and by extension, the nation’s economy. Sanwo-Olu hoped that outcome of the summit would go a long way in facilitating the transformation process of agriculture sector in the country.

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