From: Bamidele Fashube (GVE), Abuja
THE Federal Government on Monday commenced the process of setting up Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) as a major strategy to diversifying the economy.
Muhammad Nanono, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, disclosed this as he declared open, the inception workshop in Abuja, marking the take-off of the project in the 6 (six) geo-political zones of the country.
He described the move as part of efforts of the current administration and repositioning for sustainable economic growth and development.
Nanono stated that the SAPZs aims at helping to develop competitive processing capacity through the promotion of private sector investment, enabled by investment in public goods, policy interventions and the provision of desirable support services and skills development.
He said the SAPZs would boost value-addition to agriculture, improve competitiveness and in effect, reduce food imports, assure food sufficiency, create jobs for teaming Nigerian youths and in turn grow the nation’s economy by generating revenue.
Nanono said that the plan is to develop the SAPZs within a period of three (3) years across the country in areas where core economic value can be unleashed for the benefit of the rural population.
The Minister noted that agricultural mechanization would be the main vehicle for strategically implementing the SAPZ program on an intense scale.
The SAPZs which are to be built around Brownfields – areas with developed and existing infrastructure such as rails, roads, power and irrigation systems, is being developed with the support and collaboration of the African Development Bank (AFDB) and financiers like International Finance Corporation (IFC) and African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK).
The core implementing Agencies including the Nigeria Agricultural Insurance Corporation, the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), the Bank of Industry, and Bank of Agriculture among others broke into 4 cluster groups to appraise critical commodities in the value chain and proffer the way forward.
To ensure the immediate take-off of the project, the Minister is to, on a later date inaugurate technical team to drive the process.