Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, governor of Kwara state, has inaugurated the Kwara State Steering Committee for the implementation of the Special Agro-industrial Processing Zone (SAPZ), a multimillion-dollar project to boost food and nutritional security.
Supported by the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and counterpart funding from the state government, SAPZ is a $57.2 million project designed to promote agro-processing and sustainable farming, improve household incomes, and foster job creation in rural agricultural communities, especially for youth and women.
A statement by Rafiu Ajakaye, chief press secretary to the Governor quoted Abdulrazaq at the inauguration of the committee, saying, “This project has the capacity to radically impact the economy and livelihood of so many Kwarans. As such, it is immensely important to me as the governor of Kwara State and chairman of the State Steering Committee.
“The objective of the SAPZ project is to support inclusive and sustainable agro-industrial development in Kwara State. The SAPZ Project’s goal is to increase household incomes and foster job creation in rural agricultural communities, especially for the youth and women, thereby enhancing food and national security.
“Also, the proposed SAPZ project will support economic and social development programmes of the Federal Government of Nigeria and the participating states. It will contribute to rural infrastructure development, improve access to agricultural markets, increase farm productivity, promote agricultural technology, and promote climate-smart agricultural production and processing practices.
“It will also increase value addition in agro-processing and skills acquisition with a focus on all actors along the value chain, including smallholder women and youth. As members of the state Inter-Agency Steering Committee, you are to provide oversight to the project at the state level as contained in the project appraisal document.
“As you are being appointed to this role, I ask that you discharge your duties with utmost commitment and dedication to the success of this program and the development of Kwara State.”
Toyosi Thomas-Adebayo, commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development said the inauguration set off a steady implementation of the multipurpose project.
“Rest assured, Your Excellency, of our dedication and commitment to the success of this project. We realise that it is important for the state and you, and we are in this for impact,” she added.
Busari Toyin Isiaka, state SAPZ coordinator explained that the steering committee has the responsibility of strategic direction and policy guidance for the project.
He said SAPZ currently involves eight states, but the trio of Kwara, Kano, and Abuja are funded by the IsDB, while the rest are financed either by AfDB or IFAD.
“Nigeria continues to tackle its major economic and development challenges. Specifically, however, the country needs to reduce dependency on oil and diversify the economy. This is the major reason for SAPZ, and the project has a lifespan of five years,” said Isiaka.
Members of the (statutory) steering committee are the Governor (chairman); Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development; commissioner for Finance; commissioner for Budget and Planning; commissioner for Water Resources; commissioner for Business, Innovation and Technology; commissioner for Works; commissioner for Energy; and State Project Coordinator (SAPZ) who doubles as the secretary.