• Thursday, July 25, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Ogun rallies AfDB for establishment of largest agro-processing zone in Africa 

Dapo Abiodun

Having observed post-harvest losses recorded annually on farm produce, coupled with a move to add value to agricultural produce indiscriminately exported for processing overseas, Ogun state government has mulled partnership with African Development Bank (AfDB) on the establishment of largest Agro-Processing Zone in Africa.

The establishment of Agro-Processing Zone becomes imperative going by Ogun state’s status as Gateway state to West African sub-region, coupled with its natural and agricultural endowments for which the State government is seriously working to block ceaseless capital flight in terms of oversea processing of agricultural produce and create needed employment opportunities in the nation’s economy.

Consequently, Dapo Abiodun-led government of Ogun state has voted N21.6 billion for the actualization of the Agro-Processing Zone in the next fiscal year, wanting to enter into a finance agreement with the African Financial House for quick and ease construction of the processing zone where the processing of farm and agricultural produce would not only be concentrated but also the storage of the produce.

Speaking on the rationale behind the creation of the largest Agro-Processing Zone at the presentation of 2020 fiscal estimates before the State House of Assembly in Abeokuta, Governor Dapo Abiodun noted that the zone was conceived to  boost agricultural and agro-allied sectors in the state and the country at large, adding that it would also serve as regular income contributors towards sustaining the State’s economy and agribusiness.

Governor Abiodun, who said the State, being a major producer of cassava, kolanut, maize, cashew and palm kernel in Nigeria, would partner African Development Bank (AfDB) to create the largest Agro-Processing Zone with N21.6 billion expendable from the State’s budget as take-off fund, just as the State is expected to rally other investors to the zone with a public-private partnership arrangement.

The governor explained that investors would benefit greatly from the agriculture and agro-allied processing zone and cluster of industries expected to be sited within the zone as a pool of raw materials would be available for different manufacturing industries sourcing raw materials from agricultural produce all over the country, saying: “this would guarantee an opening for business to thrive between the State and the Private sector.”

He however pointed out that the Anchor Borrowers Scheme and FADAMA Graduate Unemployed Youths Scheme (FADAMA GUYS) programmes had provided job opportunities in agriculture for the teeming youth and women and they would also serve the zone by supplying needed farm produce in addition to others sourced within and outside the country.