NIGERIA – Leading developmental organizations, African Development Bank Group (AfDB), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), are set to undertake the establishment of Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) in 18 countries across the region.

Special Agro-industrial Processing are a flagship initiative of the AfDB’s ‘Feed Africa’ strategic priority.

They aim to provide end-to-end solutions and services that de-risk production, processing, and marketing operations of private sector actors as they boost manufacturing and transformation capacity in production areas.

The end result is improved livelihoods for millions in the rural areas as well as a reduction in poverty.

Nigeria, is one of the countries slated for the project which is set to foster public-private partnerships in priority value chains through developing infrastructure in rural areas, focused on finishing and transforming raw materials and commodities.

“In the same manner that SAPZs have worked in other countries, it will create jobs, develop skills, and facilitate agricultural value chains development in Nigeria.

“Private sector investment is critical to the success of the SAPZs, as well as having the right policies in place. Action is needed now. The African Development Bank is ready to accelerate this action,” African Development Bank Group’s Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Beth Dunford, said.

To spearhead the project in the West African country, the deep pocketed financier, AfDB and its development partners are mobilizing US$520 million to co-finance the first phase of the program to be implemented in phases across six geo-political zones in the country.

The Nigeria Special Agro-industrial Processing Zone programme consists of four mutually reinforcing components – infrastructure development and agro-industrial hubs management; agriculture productivity and production; policy and institutional development; and programme coordination and management.

IFAD’s Associate Vice President for Programme Management, Donald Brown commented, “This flagship project will enable us to take our relationship with the African Development Bank to another level.

“Our relationship started 43 years ago, and since then we have worked together on 52 projects. But I think the Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones are the biggest and most high-profile project that IFAD and the Bank will work on together.”

Nigeria’s Federal and State governments have expressed overwhelming support for the initiative and commitment to put in place enabling policies and incentives to attract private sector investment in the Zones, to ensure successful implementation.

“The Federal government is committed to successfully implementing the programme to increase agricultural production, reduce poverty, and scale up job creation across the country,” Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning Dr. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed said.

Solomon Quaynor, African Development Bank’s Vice President for Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization, noted that, “The quality of industrial policies and design will influence the quality of private sector operators that can be attracted into the Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones.”

Ougfaly Badji, IsDB’s Senior Agricultural Economist said the zones would enable producers, processors, and the entire agricultural value chain in Nigeria, to become more functional and profitable.

In other related news, Exxess Group of companies is seeking to invest US$14.2 million in large scale cassava farming and processing in Ekiti state, Southwest Nigeria.

The project is expected to cover about 3,600 hectares of land cultivated in addition to the establishment of a 60-tonne flour mills daily.

Financiers of the project include, U.S. Development Finance Corporation; U.S. EXIM bank; African development bank; International Finance Corporation, European Development Finance Institutions, Central Bank of Nigeria and some commercial banks.

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