Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has applauded the provision of $538.05 million by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) for the first phase of the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) for Nigeria programme.
According to a statement released by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari gave his appreciation for the fund provision while delivery his goodwill message to the Feed Africa Summit of Heads of State and Government, on Wednesday in Dakar, Senegal.
The president hailed the multilateral financial institutions for adopting the partnership model for the funding, and noted that the SAPZs are “game changers” for the transformation of the agricultural sector in Africa.
‘I am pleased with the partnership approach used for Nigeria by the multilateral financing institutions, with the African Development Bank providing $210 million, the Islamic Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development providing $310 million, and the Government of Nigeria providing $18.05 million.
‘‘The Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones are game changers for the structural transformation of the agricultural sector.
‘‘I therefore urge that as we develop the Food and Agriculture Delivery Compacts from this Summit, special attention should be placed on the development of Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones.’’
The federal government and other international partners, launched the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) in Nigeria in October 2022 as a way of tackling the problems facing the country’s agricultural sector.
The special agro-processing hubs will be implemented in seven states: Kaduna, Kano, Kwara, Oyo, Ogun, Imo and Cross River, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The President applauded the efforts of the African Development Bank to launch SAPZ.
He said: ‘‘The Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones for Nigeria, which is in the first phase will cover seven States in the Federation.
‘‘These very innovative public-private partnership models will help us to transform the agriculture sector much faster and use it to generate wealth.
‘‘They will also allow our countries to develop integrated infrastructure around our agricultural processes and add value to the production of crops, livestock, and fisheries.’’
Buhari called on African leaders to demonstrate political will and re-commit themselves to transformation of agriculture in the continent.
He said that with the rising inflation globally and the effects of the Russia-Ukraine crisis that have made food prices to hit the roof, it has become imperative to take appropriate measures to boost the agricultural sector in the African continent.
Listing some measures to be adopted, President Buhari advocated increasing budgetary allocation to agricultural sector by countries in the continent and supporting famers through subsidy schemes to boost productivity.
‘‘Feeding Africa is an imperative. We must ensure that we feed ourselves today, tomorrow, and well into the future. The starting point is to raise agricultural productivity. This requires the access of farmers to quality farm inputs, especially improved seeds, and fertilizers and mechanisation.
‘‘To succeed, we must strongly support farmers.
‘‘There is no doubt that we need to subsidise our farmers, but we must do so in ways that are transparent, remove rent seeking behavior and effectively deliver support to farmers.
‘‘The share of budget allocation to agriculture should be increased across Africa, especially for investments in critical public goods, such as research and development, infrastructure, especially roads, irrigation, and energy.
‘‘As leaders, let us decisively ensure that we meet the 10% allocation of our budgets to agriculture as agreed in the Malabo Declaration of the African Heads of State and Government,” He stated.
Buhari also stressed the need to drastically reduce the rate of rural to urban migration by developing rural areas.
He also emphasised that agriculture should be made more attractive for youths to engage in, noting that the future of the sector in Africa would depend on having more of them in it.
‘‘To feed Africa, we need younger male and female farmers. We must also ensure that they get access to land, finance, technologies, information, and markets.’’
The Nigerian leader also harped on adopting climate-smart agricultural practices due to impact of climate change.
‘‘We must take into consideration climate change and ensure that agricultural systems are climate-smart and climate-resilient.
‘‘We must invest heavily in irrigation to help address increasing frequency of droughts that are leading to decline in crop yields.
‘‘I am convinced that the very targeted and bold approach of using the Food and Agriculture Delivery Compacts will allow Africa to finally break through and feed itself.
‘‘Feeding Africa is not negotiable. Africa must grow what her citizens eat. As leaders, we must demonstrate political will and re- commit ourselves to producing for the continent’s needs, including surpluses for export,’’ he said.