The African Development Bank (AfDB) says it will be funding the establishment of new special agro-processing zones (SAPZ) in Nigeria to the tune of $300 million. This represents about 60 percent of the estimated cost of setting up the zones across the country.
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Work on the zones is expected to commence in July 2020 and will be carried out in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. A total of six agro-processing areas will be established, with one in each of the country’s six geo-political zones.
Senior Special Adviser on Industrialization to the AfDB President, Prof. Oyebanji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, has said that the zones would help to add value to Nigeria’s agriculture value chain. He explained that it would provide access to new markets for farmers and agribusiness entrepreneurs.
Prof. Oyelaran-Oyeyinka also said that the AfDB was already in talks with private sector organizations which he hoped would take the leading role in driving the project forward. According to him, private interests would be setting up farms and processing plants in the zones.
He further explained that the bank would be engaging public finance institutions in the country, such as the Bank of Industry (BOI) and Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), to help set up the infrastructure for the various zones.
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The AfDB says that the special agro-processing zones will bring together farmers and large agro-processing businesses, and allow them to operate in close proximity. According to it, the model will bring a large number of smallholder farmers together under cooperatives, and ultimately raise their productivity levels and increase their incomes.
Last year, the bank announced that it had identified 14 sites across Nigeria for its special agro-processing zones. It had also indicated that a number of foreign companies were interested in investing in the projects.
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