NIGERIA – It’s all systems go for the establishment of Nigeria Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zone as the African Development Bank’s Board of Directors have approved a US$210 million loan to finance the first phase of the project.
Fruitification of the program is expected to impact the lives of millions of people in Africa’s most populous country, and unlock potential of the agriculture sector by promoting industrialization through the development of strategic crops and livestock.
The US$210m financing is made up of an African Development Bank loan of US$160 million and an Africa Growing Together Fund loan of US$50 million.
In addition, the first phase will be implemented with co-financing from other partners in the amount of US$538.05 million.
They include the Islamic Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development who will provide parallel co-financing, alongside Nigeria’s federal and state governments contributing both in cash and in kind.
“This first phase of the program is not government-driven. It is government-enabled and private sector led. That is the critical way in which you have structural transformation of agriculture.
“It is impressive to see a strong commitment from the Nigerian government and from all of the state governments because they have to give the land, they make sure that all the regulations and incentives are provided,” African Development Bank Group President Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina said.
Developmental zones strategically selected
According to AfDB, the initiator of the project, Phase 1 of the program targets seven Nigerian states and the country’s Federal Capital Territory.
The project areas account for 19% of Nigeria’s total land mass and the states were selected based on a readiness criterion as well as the need to ensure geographical balance across Nigeria’s six geo-political zones.
These include Cross River State focusing on cocoa, rice and cassava value chains; Federal Capital Territory and Imo State put under beef and dairy livestock value chains; Kaduna State to be hub for tomato, maize and ginger value chains; Kano State focusing on rice, tomato, groundnuts and sesame oil sectors; Kwara State set aside for livestock value chain; Ogun State focalise on cassava, rice, poultry and fisheries value chains; and Oyo State set up for cassava, soybean, rice value chains.
“We have several million hectares of available arable land and have embarked on the creation of Special Agriculture Processing Zones across the country. These initiatives, we believe, will make it easier for investors in agriculture,” said Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari.
Often planned near secondary cities, the agro-industrial hubs are designed to revitalize peri-urban economies and create jobs for women, men, and young people.
It includes a US$2 million budget for a gender action plan that will provide agro-industrial hub gender-sensitive guidelines, workshops for women-led agricultural cooperatives, and capacity-building training for women, among other gender-focused priorities.
The African Development Bank’s Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Beth Dunford, said, “Equitable employment and economic opportunities are a cornerstone of the Bank’s work.
“This program will target at least 50% women participation. The gender action plan will help ensure that there’s facilitation of broader lending to women.”
The African Development Bank’s Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones is a flagship of the Bank’s Feed Africa Strategy.
Other than Nigeria, the bank plans to establish these zones in 18 African countries, to concentrate production, processing, storage, transport and the marketing of commodities to increase productivity and competitiveness and reduce logistics costs.