In supporting the country’s initiative to increase agricultural output and achieve food security, Nigeria has launched the Special Agro-Industry Processing Zones (SAPZ), a program initiated by the African Development Bank (AFDB).
According to a press release by the AFDB, the Bank’s President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, said the Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones are brand-new economic zones in rural areas that will be completely supported by infrastructure (power, water, roads, digital infrastructure, and logistics), allowing food and agribusiness companies to locate within such zones.
The launch event which took place on Monday in Abuja was to set off the implementation of phase one of the SAPZ program in eight states across the country.
According to the press statement by the AFDB, the African Development Bank is will provide $210 million, with a total of $310 million to be provided by the Islamic Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), while the government of Nigeria funding totals $18.05 million.
What they are saying
The implementation of the first phase of the SAPZ is seen as the beginning of the journey to ending hunger and food insufficiency in the country.
In statements made by Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo, President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria applauded the initiative and added, “if the Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones program delivers on its objectives, and we have no doubt that it will, then we would in less than a decade have dealt a fatal blow to food insecurity, create millions of good paying agro-industrial jobs and opportunities and radically improve export earnings from agriculture.”
According to Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, a former Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria and recipient of the World Food Prize, “hunger in Nigeria cannot be justified. Nigeria has the land, with 34 million hectares of arable land with rich and diverse agroecology. It has water. It has the labor. It has great sunshine. Nigeria must achieve zero hunger. There is no reason for anyone to go hungry in Nigeria.”
Adesina urged more action, responsiveness, and delivery to avert a food catastrophe in Nigeria, noting that Nigeria is now ranked 103rd out of 121 nations experiencing a hunger crisis globally in the most recent Global Hunger Index (2022). He said,
“Nigeria must decisively tackle insecurity challenges that prevent farmers from going to the farms. Food security needs national security.”
Speaking at the launching ceremony, the President of the Islamic Development Bank, Dr. Muhammad Al Jasser said, “with the disruption of supplies arising from the war, Africa now faces a shortage of at least 30 million metric tons of food imports from Russia and Ukraine, especially for wheat, maize, and soybeans. Urgent actions are needed to prevent a food crisis in Africa.”
He expressed optimism that Nigeria will successfully implement the SAPZ initiative, which would increase food production, lower inflation in food prices, change the agriculture industry, provide food security, and generate jobs.
Ms. Katherine Meighan, Associate Vice President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, stated that her organization is committed to helping 100,000 direct beneficiaries, including smallholders, small processors, traders, and service providers in Ogun and Kano State, with a strong emphasis on youth and women, achieve the overall goal of the SAPZ program.
She said, “our empowerment strategy aims to equip farmers and smallholders to take advantage of the markets created by the SAPZ to sustainably enhance their income through income-generating activities, household food security and nutrition, and resilience to climate change.”
The African Development Bank established the $1.5 billion African Emergency Food Production Facility to assist 20 million farmers in accessing climate-resilient agricultural technologies and produce 38 million metric tons of food valued at $12 billion, thereby preventing a food crisis in Africa as a result of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
According to Adesina, the African Emergency Food Production Facility provided $134 million to Nigeria, one of the highest levels of support across African countries. The Japanese International Development Agency (JICA) co-financed this with an additional $110 million. That means that a total of $244 million was contributed toward the production of emergency food in Nigeria.
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