Transforming Agriculture: AfDB Alongside Partners, Commits $1 Billion to SAPZs in Nigeria

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By Cecilia Attah

In a significant stride towards bolstering Nigeria’s agricultural sector and promoting economic development, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and its strategic partners have voted a monumental investment of $1 billion to fund Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) across 24 states in Nigeria.

This joint initiative marks a substantial step forward in fostering sustainable agricultural practices, enhancing food security, and driving economic growth in the region.

This funding, which is a collaborative effort between AfDB and various partners, including government agencies, international organizations, and private sector entities, aims to create a conducive environment for agribusinesses, encourage innovation, and provide comprehensive support to smallholder farmers. These SAPZs will serve as hubs for agricultural transformation, integrating farming, processing, and marketing activities within designated zones.

The allocated funds empower farmers through resources, training, and market access, integrating them into formal agricultural systems to enhance productivity and income. The initiative establishes processing facilities, minimizing waste, generating employment, and adding value to rural agrarian products. It emphasizes eco-friendly practices, teaching efficient water usage, soil health, and climate-smart techniques. Strengthening agriculture in SAPZs creates jobs, boosts production, and enhances exports, positively impacting Nigeria’s economy. This collaborative effort between AfDB, government, and private sectors aims for impactful change, striving for sustainable development and poverty reduction in rural communities.

This initiative is coming in addition to the initial $520 million invested by the development partners for the development of eight special agro-industrial processing zones in Nigeria.

The President of AfDB, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, disclosed this momentous development during his speech at the Norman Borlaug International Dialogue, World Food Prize 2023, held in Des Moines, Iowa, USA.

Adesina emphasized that these funds were part of a broader strategy to develop SAPZs in 13 countries aimed at bolstering agricultural value chains, food processing, and value addition while enhancing local, regional, and international food trade.

” The African Development Bank Group is investing $853 million in the development of the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones. The bank has mobilized additional co-financing of 661 million dollars for a total commitment of $1.5 billion.

The AfDB and the International Fund for Agricultural Development provided $520 million for the development of eight special agro-industrial processing zones in Nigeria.

The second phase of the program aims to mobilize an additional $1 billion to deliver special agro-industrial processing zones in 24 States of Nigeria.”

Dr Adesina expressed regret that despite significant progress in African agriculture, 283 million people still go to bed hungry, constituting about a third of the 828 million people suffering from hunger globally.

Dr Adesina described the World Food Prize 2023 as a platform where science, technology, policies, and politics come together to unlock Africa’s agricultural potential and eliminate hunger on the continent.

The Vice-President of Nigeria, Kashim Shettima, who attended the event in line with the Tinubu administration’s food security and diversification policy, highlighted the leadership’s commitment to transforming agriculture in Nigeria, assuring the gathering of investors and stakeholders in the agricultural sector that President Tinubu was committed to redefining modern leadership and driving positive change in Nigeria and across the African continent.

Shettima highlighted Nigeria’s ambition to achieve 50% self-sufficiency in wheat production within the next three cycles, emphasizing the deployment of heat-tolerant wheat seeds, digitalization, and innovative financing to support farmers. Additionally, he outlined plans to address the insufficiency of paddy rice, leveraging Nigeria’s vast by 2027

‘’Be rest assured that there will be a change in the fortunes of the Nigerian nation and by extension, the African continent in the next couple of years because Nigeria is an anchor nation, It is inconceivable that we are the second largest wheat importer in the world. Luckily, we have already procured the heat-tolerant variety of wheat seeds, and we are going to drive that process by supporting the farmers with the heat-tolerant variety, agricultural extension services, and fertilizer. We also hope to increase the irrigation areas to 1 million hectares in the next cropping cycle.

“We need to produce about 2.4 million tonnes of wheat grains in Nigeria. We are going to reach out to our farmers through small irrigation schemes and through digitalization; all the actors in the value chain will be sufficiently taken care of through innovative finance, partial credit guarantees and crop insurance. We have 75 million hectares of arable land, most of it suited for rice cultivation. We will provide our farmers with certified seeds, fertilisers, extension services, the digitalisation of services, inputs, finance and market information, and our target is to achieve self-sufficiency in rice by 2027.”

The Vice-President also reiterated the Tinubu administration’s commitment to creating an enabling environment for investors in the SAPZs and announced the establishment of an SAPZ development authority designed to streamline regulatory processes and provide comprehensive support to investors.

The SAPZs initiative aligns with Nigeria’s broader economic diversification efforts and the African Development Bank’s mission to promote sustainable and inclusive development across the continent.

This remarkable commitment from AfDB, IDB, and IFAD collaboration signifies a monumental stride towards achieving food security and agricultural development, promising economic growth, and increased employment opportunities in Nigeria.

Additionally, the AfDB has extended its investments to several other African countries, including Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia, as well as countries like Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, and many more. These investments are directed towards reducing poverty, improving living standards, and mobilizing resources for economic and social development in these nations.

In Nigeria, the AfDB has made substantial investments, totalling $4.4 billion, which is among the highest commitments compared to other Regional Member Countries (RMCs). These investments in Nigeria are spread fairly evenly between public and private sector operations.

The AfDB’s investments in Africa encompass a wide range of sectors, including agriculture, energy, infrastructure, health, education, and more, aiming to foster sustainable development and enhance the overall well-being of the people in these countries.

The AfDB is committed to promoting sustainable development in Africa and helping African countries achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

As the nation gears up for this ambitious endeavour, the international community watches with anticipation, recognizing the profound impact this initiative will have on Nigeria’s agricultural future. This is poised to set a new standard for agricultural development, serving as a model for other nations aspiring to strengthen their agricultural sectors and uplift rural communities.








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