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Nigeria, powerhouse for African agro-industrilisation, says IFAD

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has identified Nigeria as the powerhouse for agro-industrilisation in Africa.

The Associate Vice-President and General Counsel, IFAD, Ms Katherine Meighan, said this at the ongoing Strategic Partners and Investors Forum on the Launch of “the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ), in Abuja.

Meighan said Nigeria is blessed with fertile land, a vibrant young population and over 88% of arable land, while 75% of the country’s population is younger than 24 years old.

According to her, Nigeria has the largest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the largest population in Africa, and therefore well-positioned as a powerhouse for agro-industrialiation across the continent.

“Smallholder farmers, which constitute 70% of Nigerian farmers, are the key to this transformation. Together, they produce up to 90% of the national output.

“IFAD is laser-focused on financing such smallholder farmers to increase productivity and build resilient rural communities.

“Its mission is to invest in small-scale farmers and producers to build local food security and support vibrant rural communities,” she said.

She also identified private sector involvement as critical to the successful implementation of SAPZ using the four P model – Public Private Producer Partnership.

Meighan, who described the private sector as a key growth engine for rural economies, encouraged them to take full advantage of SAPZ platform.

“IFAD has decades-long successful track record of using the four P model to bring significant benefits to all involved.

“Olam Nigeria built a new mill in 2014 to process rice, but had major challenges in finding farmers to bring their rice for processing.

“After working successfully with four P model since 2016 in the IFAD-supported VCDP project, Olam has increased its milling capacity by 10 times.

“lt now has a highly reliable supply of rice brought to the mill regularly and much higher quality rice than can be found in the market. This is a major success for the private sector partner.”

She said the model is a major success for the rice producers “who have more than doubled their income through the project” and as well supply much higher quality at higher market price.

To strengthen agriculture transformation centres and aggregation centres, the programme integrates robust capacity building for agricultural production for farmers and other value chain shareholders, particularly youth.

Public-private development

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, said SAPZ is a government enabled but private sector-led programme established for inclusive growth and development.

Abubakar said the Ministry will provide more support for SAPZ programme to facilitate huge flow of investment into modern agro-processing and value addition.

“Our strategic partnership with the state governments, relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and the private sector will be strengthened through enablement of agro-industrilisation policy facilitation of right mix of incentives for agribusiness ecosystem around SAPZ,” he said.

Senior Special Adviser to African Development Bank (AfDB) President on Industrialisation, Prof. Oyebanjo Oyeyinka, said SAPZ goals enhance production, reduce post-harvest loss, increase value addition, and reduce operational cost and transaction cost, among others.

The key outcomes of the programme, according to him, include to reduce food imports, assure food security, create wealth for rural farmers, and enhance inclusive growth and development.

The Director-General, African American Bank (AfAB), Lamin Barrow, said the guiding principles for development of the SAPZs are for the government to provide the enabling infrastructure, adding that land for agro-industrial hubs is an enabler for private sector investments.

According to him, to strengthen agriculture transformation centres and aggregation centres, the programme integrates robust capacity building for agricultural production for farmers and other value chain shareholders, particularly youth.

“Phase 1 of the SAPZ programme has identified development of rice, cassava, maize, groundnut, sesame, tomato, sorghum, soybeans, cocoa, oil palm, poultry, dairy, beef and fishery value chains in the following locations.

“Paiko-kore/Dobi Livestock Industrial Hub in Gwagwalada Area Council of the FCT, Bagauda Agro-Industrial Hub in Kano State, Sagamu Agro Industrial Hub in Ogun State, Ijaiye Agro Industrial Hub in Oyo State.

“GAAIZ Hub in Kaduna State, Lata-Nna Grazing Reserve Special Livestock Processing Hub in Kwara State, Ikom Agro-Industrial Hub in Cross River State and Okigwe Special Livestock Processing Hub in Imo State,” he stated. (NAN)

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