• Thursday, June 20, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

20 state govts seek $540m AfDB funding for agro-industrial zones – Adesina

C42491DE-B2D6-4EFE-8B8C-5E8A54CCA19F

Twenty Nigerian states have expressed interest in accessing over half a billion dollars in international financing to create agro-industrial zones in their states, Akinwunmi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, said in a speech in Lagos.

While delivering the keynote address at the annual BusinessDay CEO Forum, Adesina said Nigeria must make agriculture a major wealth-creating sector and financing is key.

The African Development Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the Islamic Development Bank last year approved $540 million to Nigeria to develop the first set of Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones in nine states.

“An additional twenty state governments have expressed interest to be engaged for the second phase of the programme,” he said.

Though he did not reveal the states that have shown interest thus far, there has been a significant uptick in production from the states that previously accessed the funds.

The pilot phase of the programme sought to raise the output of commodities such as rice, cassava, and cocoa, which are grown in Cross River State, beef and dairy cattle in the Federal Capital Territory, livestock in Imo State, beef and dairy, tomato, maize, and ginger from Kaduna State, rice, tomatoes, groundnuts, and sesame oil from Kano State, livestock in Kwara State, cassava, rice, poultry, and fisheries in Ogun State, cassava, soybeans, and rice from Oyo State.

“ It is time to take bold policy measures to drive the structural transformation of agriculture, with infrastructure and spatial economic policies that will help turn the rural economies of Nigeria away from being zones of economic misery to new zones of economic prosperity,” Adesina said.

The AfDB boss said the key to this is the development of Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) across the country.

These will be zones enabled with infrastructure and logistics, to support private sector food and agriculture companies to locate close to the areas of production and to process and add value to food and agricultural commodities.

He said this will turn cotton into textiles and garments, tomatoes into purees and tomato paste, milk into cheese, butter and substitute imported milk and drive massive transformation of finished rice products.

“In short, the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones will turn rural Nigeria from zones of economic misery into new zones of economic prosperity. The booming wealth will touch every part of Nigeria, and every person in Nigeria, from rural to urban areas,” he said.

The BusinessDay CEO Forum, now in its 14th edition, brings together decision-makers in the country’s private and public sectors to discuss emerging opportunities and prevailing challenges they encounter in running their organisations.

This year’s event was held in Lagos on July 13, with the theme “Charting a Course to Growth and Development” and explored what is required by business leaders to reposition for economic growth.