The national economic council (NEC) has announced plans to channel at least $1.52 billion in donor funds into 36 special agro-industrial processing zones across the country.
In a statement on Thursday, the council, presided over by Vice-President Kashim Shettima, said this was in an effort to support 100,000 farmers and create 17.5 million jobs.
This is coming two years after the first phase of an initial $520 million voted by the development partners to develop eight special agro-industrial processing zones in Nigeria.
Abubakar Kyari, minister of agriculture and food security, spoke to state house correspondents at the end of the 137th NEC meeting in Abuja.
Kyari said the funds were earlier pledged by the African Development Bank (ADB), Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), who voted $1 billion to deliver SAPZs in 24 states at the Norman Borlaug international dialogue, world food prize, in the USA, in late October 2023.
He said this is aside from the initial $520 million voted by the development partners for the same purpose.
“The Vice President who attended the world food prize in Des Moines, Iowa, met with the president of the African Development Bank. Dr. Adesina who has already pledged $1 billion to the second phase,” he said.
Kyari said his ministry made a presentation to the council outlining the collaborative programme with the ADB, IFAB, IDB, various state governments, and private investors.
“The seven states are Kano, Kaduna, Kwara, Ogun, Oyo, Imo and Cross River and like I said, with the FCT being the eighth partner in this programme,” he said.
“The quick wins here are that even in the stage of construction, you will have the opportunity for over 3,000 jobs.
“And at the end of the construction, opportunities will be for almost 500,000 jobs in each zone that is for each state and then also to support about 100,000 farmers.”
SAPZ: A CROSS-CUTTING INITIATIVE’
Kyari described the SAPZs as a cross-cutting initiative and platform to attract private sector investment, add value to Nigeria’s agro-processing, and open doors to improved food security and job creation.
The agriculture minister said the programme, which began in 2022, has attracted the active participation of seven states and the federal capital territory (FCT), and that the zones will not only serve as production sites but also as “hubs for aggregation and processing of agricultural produce”.
He said the earmarked $520 million for the first phase aimed to establish clusters of agricultural production and significantly reduce post-harvest losses.
“For instance, Kano has keyed in to do a lot of tomatoes in this zone. And we know that tomato losses run to almost 50 to 60 per cent. It is unacceptable in today’s agricultural sector,” he said.
“We have already received expressions of interest from about 26 states so far. The second phase is supposed to kick in from next year. This first phase will last for five years. And the documentation for phase two will begin by next year.
“There are only three states (Abia, Adamawa and Yobe) that have not expressed interest. But as we were leaving here, one (Abia State) had already signified and is working on sending the expression of interest.”
The council also acknowledged the leading role of Ogun state in the development of these zones.