The Nigerian government, in a significant move to boost its agricultural sector, has announced an ambitious plan to create over 18.1 million jobs and channel at least $1.52 billion in donor funds into 36 special agro-industrial processing zones across the nation. This initiative, spearheaded by the National Economic Council, aims to transform the agricultural landscape of the country.
The first phase of this project, already underway in Kano, Kaduna, Kwara, Ogun, Oyo, Imo, Cross River states, and the Federal Capital Territory, is set to consume over $520 million and is expected to conclude by 2028. An additional 26 states have shown interest in joining the second phase, which will see the channelling of $1 billion in funding from the African Development Bank (AfDB) and other partners, with documentation for this phase beginning in early 2024.
Abubakar Kyari, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, revealed these plans following the 137th National Economic Council meeting. The funds, pledged by the AfDB, Islamic Development Bank, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, aim to deliver Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) in 24 states. This initiative is in addition to an initial $520 million allocated by development partners for the same purpose.
The SAPZs are envisioned as a cross-cutting initiative to attract private sector investment, add value to Nigeria’s agro-processing, and unlock opportunities for improved food security and job creation. The program, which commenced in 2022, has already seen active participation from seven states and the Federal Capital Territory. These zones will not only serve as production sites but also as hubs for the aggregation and processing of agricultural produce.
Approximately $530 million has been earmarked for the first phase, aiming to establish clusters of agricultural production and significantly reduce post-harvest losses. For instance, Kano state has focused on tomato production, addressing the issue of high post-harvest losses in this crop.
The second phase of the project is expected to start next year, with the first phase lasting five years. The initiative has garnered interest from 26 states so far, with only three states yet to express their interest. The council also acknowledged Ogun State’s leading role in the development of these zones.
To expedite the initiative, the council approved the accelerated transmission of official documents to funders by the Federal Ministry of Finance and granted a waiver for the payment of performance allowance to project staff by the funders, as requested by the executing agency, to avoid project implementation risks.
At Yohaig NG, we view the Nigerian government’s ambitious plan to revolutionize its agricultural sector as a significant step towards economic diversification and job creation. The initiative to establish Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) across the nation is a strategic move that could potentially transform the agricultural landscape of Nigeria.
This plan, aiming to create over 18.1 million jobs and channel substantial donor funds into the agricultural sector, is not just about boosting production; it’s about modernizing agriculture and making it a cornerstone of Nigeria’s economy. The focus on reducing post-harvest losses and adding value to agricultural produce is particularly commendable, as it addresses some of the longstanding challenges in the sector.
However, the success of this initiative hinges on effective implementation and collaboration between the federal and state governments, as well as the private sector. These SAPZs must be equipped with the necessary infrastructure and technology to maximize their potential. Moreover, the involvement of local communities and farmers in the planning and execution of these zones is essential to ensure their sustainability and relevance.
We urge the government to maintain transparency and efficiency in the management of funds and resources allocated to this project. It is also important to provide continuous training and support to the farmers and workers involved in these zones, to ensure they can adapt to new technologies and practices.
The government’s initiative is a bold step towards a more prosperous and sustainable agricultural future for Nigeria. With careful planning, execution, and oversight, these SAPZs could become a model for agricultural development in Africa and beyond.
Did You Know?
- Global Agricultural Employment: Agriculture employs more than one-third of the world’s workforce, making it the largest employer globally.
- Nigeria’s Agricultural Potential: Nigeria has over 84 million hectares of arable land, but only 40% is currently cultivated.
- Post-Harvest Losses: In Sub-Saharan Africa, post-harvest losses in cereals alone are estimated to be worth around $4 billion annually.
- Agro-Industrial Processing: Agro-industrial processing contributes significantly to reducing food waste and increasing food security.
- Economic Impact of Agriculture: The agricultural sector contributes about 24% to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).